Learning Math Facts

Math Facts

Does your child need help learning math facts? In this article I’ll tell you how I taught my son his addition facts and I’ll show you a fun way to review them.

As you know, most children with autism probably won’t be able to sit down with a list of addition or multiplication facts and memorize them on their own.

Our kids need a good bit of extra help, and I’ll show you what worked for us.

First of all, I must point out that I used a variety of techniques to help my son remember these concepts. 

I used an abacus to help him understand what each equation meant.  Click here for tips on how to use this tool effectively.

Once I was confident that he understood what the written equations stood for, it was time to help him memorize them.


How I Taught Math Facts

I followed this simple procedure successfully to teach my son addition facts, and I must say, it worked quite well for him.  So well, in fact, that I plan to do this for subtraction, multiplication and division facts as well.


  1. Call out in consecutive order each equation in the zero series.  That is, 0+0=0, 0+1=1, all the way to 0+10=10.  As you call out each equation, have her write each one down (or have her type them on the computer).
  2. Repeat step 1 every day.  Eventually start leaving out the answers to see if she knows them.
  3. Now mix up the order and call them out that way.  0+5= , 0+2= , etc.  Give help as needed.
  4. Also supplement with other activities for review such as flash cards.
  5. Repeat steps 1 through 4 for the one series:  1+0=1, 1+1=2, all the way to 1+10=11.
  6. Repeat steps 1 through 4 for the two’s, three’s, etc. until she has learned the ten’s.
  7. (Optional) If you want to, you can also teach her the eleven’s and twelve’s.  It certainly can’t hurt, and it may be very helpful for her.


Teaching Them in Order

I found that first teaching the equations in consecutive order was helpful for my son. It presented the task in an organized fashion for him.

But soon he became too dependent on that ordering of the equations.  Take a look at the sequence below (I’ll use the two’s as an example):

2+0=2

2+1=3

2+2=4

2+3=5

2+4=6

2+5=7      

2+6=8

2+7=9

2+8=10

2+9=11

2+10=12


Predictably, he soon figured out that the answers were in consecutive order.  All he had to do was know how to count, and he would have all the right answers.

Of course, that’s not what we wanted.  He needed to know these equations regardless of the order in which they were presented.  So we had to mix up the order.

Mixing up the equations did throw him off at first.  But with a lot of patience and review, he learned them quite well.

Although your child may have different needs, I tend to think that most children with autism need that orderly presentation at first.  I believe it gives them an organized, better understanding of these math facts.


A Fun Way to Review These Equations

That young girl seemed to be having a great time.  

Now all you need is a number line and an ipad, and you’re good to go!

I think the number line is helpful because it gives the learner a good visual aid, a picture that can help her visualize these symbolic math concepts.

So here we have yet another way to review the math facts.  As I’ve stated earlier, it’s good to find different ways to reinforce these concepts.

Flash cards are also very helpful, and I highly recommend using them as well.  Click here for more information on how to make the most of these helpful tools.

  

What Next?

Once my son learned his basic addition facts, I started teaching him double-digit addition, which involved some unique challenges for a person with autism.

Now once I move on to subtraction, I plan to go back to showing him the equations on the abacus. I want to be sure he understands what these equations mean.  I also plan to do the same when we start learning multiplication and later on, division.

MathRise Learning Centers has posted a very helpful article with tips that could help you successfully teach math facts, or any other aspect of math, to your child with autism.  I'm not affiliated with them in any way, but I do agree with many of the suggestions they offer in that article.

Teaching math facts can take a lot of time, patience and effort.  But if we keep working at it, even for a few minutes every day, I think our children will surprise us with what they can do.


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