Supporting numeracy skills

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Tip of the Month:
July, 2017

Students with autism vary greatly in their strength and weaknesses within academic skills. Some students with autism have a particularly difficult time developing numeracy skills. Traditional methods of teaching math are through language and this is problematic for many students with autism as many struggle with weak language skills. “Some of the most difficult aspects of math for ASD students are language of math (words describing mathematical concepts), work problems (accurately translating from language to mathematical problems), estimation and prediction (Bell, January 2002). Many students with autism find it easy to learn by rote, so you may find they are very good at reciting times tables; however, can not answer more complex word problems.
• Some students with autism like the rigidity of math, working though the same problems over and over and getting the same answer
• Some students will quickly grasp the math concept after doing one or two questions and then they will not see the point of doing an entire page of additions and may refuse to do so
Strategies to support numeracy
• Concrete to abstract- start with concrete examples to help the student understand abstract concepts. Giving the student examples they can touch, see, or feel (blocks, objects, toys, abacus).
• Use examples from everyday life- everywhere you look, everywhere you go, you can always find something related to math. Ex- if you have 5 cheerios and you eat 2 how many are left?
• Use the students special interest to help motivate the student to learn mathematics. For example, if the student likes Thomas the Tank, use pictures of Thomas for counting.
• Create with the student a dictionary of math words and have it accessible for the student
• Computer or iPad math games/programs can help with motivation. Many students with autism are very good at using computers and they like the fact that computers present information in a logical, predictable sequence.
• Reduce the amount of work the student must complete
• Use simple language
• Present shapes e.g. rectangles in different forms with bases in different places (point out that the refrigerator is rectangle)

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