Sally Goddard Blythe, in her book The Well Balanced Child explains that many of the symptoms that are expressed in disorders, such as dyslexia, attention deficit, or anxiety disorders are actually caused by a “treatable signal-scrambling dysfunction” within the inner ear and cerebellum (Goddard, 2007). These are the same symptoms that can be ”triggered in normal individuals following excessive spinning and dizziness.” Studies have found that participating in martial arts, due to its demand on focus in combination with aerobic activity, twice a week improves behavior and performance of children suffering from this disorder.
Someone with dyspraxia has a disorganization of movement, particularly unfamiliar movement and those involving multiple steps. Deficit in motor planning and sequencing is often a leading factor in a variety of developmental and motor deficits, including speech. Motor development progresses from head to toes and from the core outward. Therefore, there may be little connection to the feet, although the upper body may appear well-coordinated. Dr. Blomberg (2011) explains that movement ability and speech are linked and that stimulating the cerebellum to improve motor abilities need to happen before speech can be improved.
Dyscalculia, a disorder in calculation, is defined by the National Center for Learning Disabilitites (2006) as “a wide range of life long disabilities involving math.” Specific areas in the left hemisphere used in counting, calculating, and using basic arithmetic number symbols are located mostly in regions of the left parietal lobe and motor cortex. Areas in the prefrontal cortex are used in analyzing a problem and retrieval of facts. Regions in the right parietal lobe are used in spatial reasoning and visual-spatial tasks, like being able to generate a mental number line, and estimating. Students with dyscalculia have significant weaknesses in areas on the left hemisphere that effect their ability to compute or recall basic facts (Sousa 2008). They may equally have difficulty in reading, or dyslexia, since decoding and phonemic awareness are also located on the left side.
Source: How the Brain Learns Mathematics, by David Sousa (2008)
Although not as commonly known as dyslexia, there is actually a significant number of students, between 20% - 60%, who have both (Butterworth & Yeo, 2004; Hannell, 2005). This means that many students with language related issues struggle with math as well, and that these students also experience motor skill deficits. Their right side areas are generally functioning properly or may even be well above average. If these children are not in an environment that embraces understanding and conceptual thinking, they will have limited access to understanding mathematics, even though they may very well be destined to be great mathematical thinkers. Movement helps encourage the use of both sides of the brain during math, increasing assess of the weaker side and communication between both hemispheres.
---From my book: Movement Makes math Meaningful: Away from the Desk Math Lessons Aligned with the Common Core, pages 13-14
Lisa Ann de Garcia, MA, MEd.