Wednesday, October 02, 2019

What is Hypernumeracy?

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What is hypernumeracy? Here's an attempt to define hypernumeracy and explore the "symptoms" or traits of it.

If you search hypernumeracy on Google, you won't find much. Although you will find more than the 60ish results I originally got when I searched hypernumeracy for the first time in November 2014 after my son was "diagnosed" with it.

And you certainly won't find a specific definition anywhere. Or, at least, I've never come across one...

So what exactly is hypernumeracy?

What is hypernumeracy? Here is an attempt to define hypernumeracy

What is Hypernumeracy? An Attempt to Define It

Well, think hyperlexia, but with numbers instead of letters.

If the definition of hyperlexia is "The precocious, self-taught ability to read words well above their age level, which appears before age 5," then hypernumeracy could be defined as a precocious self-taught ability to understand math well above their age level.

Similar to how hyperlexia includes an intense fascination with letters, hypernumeracy presents with an intense fascination with numbers. However, I full-heartedly believe it's more than just an obsession with numbers and math. And it's certainly more than just being good at math.

William H. Briggs put it best when he said, "The love of mathematics isn't hypernumeracy: the ardent desire to quantify everything is." (source)

And that's exactly what I see with my son J.

Sure, he's insanely gifted at math, but it's how everything in his being comes down to thinking in numbers. How everything just always relates to numbers. Much like Daniel Tammet explains in his books Thinking in Numbers and Born on a Blue Day.

It's why my son would refer to movies by their running time instead of the title.

It's why he would say just our house number when he really meant to say "I want to go home."

It's why I had a conversation like this the other day...

Me: "Did you learn anything new when you were working on your waterslide research today?"

Him, excitedly: "It's almost 400 kb of data!"

Obviously not the new fact I was aiming for when I posed the question, but totally an appropriate response for a kid with hypernumeracy to give.

Hypernumeracy "Symptoms" or Traits

So if I had to summarize what I see and what I have learned from my son, I would describe the traits or signs of hypernumeracy to be:

  • An intense fasincation with numbers and math
  • Doing math at a level that is higher than what's expected for their age level and is self-taught
  • Thinking in numbers and attempting to quantify everything
Now obviously this is just my observations with no research to back it up, but when Google is no help, I've got to just go with what I've got.

All I know is that my son was given this "diagnosis" by a psychologist during his autism assessment and that he lives and breathes numbers.

What do you think? How would you define hypernumeracy?

Other Hypernumeracy Resources You'll Love

Books for Kids Who Love Numbers & Math

Hyperlexia & Hypernumeracy Resources

Math Sensory Bins for Kids Who Love Numbers

Hypernumeracy - what is it? what are the "symptoms"? and how do you define it?

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