Teaching Math to Children with Autism

Teaching basic math to children with autism isn’t hard if you just learn a few principles and know the pitfalls to avoid.  Read on to learn more about how to teach this important subject.

This essential subject is one of the three R’s:  reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic.  It’s just basic knowledge that all our kids need to know to function as normally and as independently as possible.

You want your child to be able to count, to recognize numbers, and to at least do some basic addition and subtraction.  If you can possibly move your child on to multiplication and division, that would be wonderful, too.

If your child is an arithmetic genius, then great!  That’s his strength, and you can encourage him in that. 

But if he doesn’t ever master calculus or differential equations, or even algebra, not to worry.  Math wasn’t my subject either, and I never got past algebra II.

Let your child’s abilities and strengths be your guide, and bring her as far as she can go.  But don’t sweat it if she has a lot of trouble along the way.

All your child really needs to function independently in this world is the basics.  So if this isn’t her subject, it’s okay if all she learns is addition and subtraction.

Just approach teaching this subject as you should approach anything else you do with your child:  with lots of love and patience.

How and What to Teach

Below I’m listing various basic arithmetic skills and methods you can use to teach them to your child.  I’ll explain each subject further on separate pages, so just follow those links to learn more.

But I highly recommend that you start with the first link listed below to learn an important principle for teaching this subject to children with autism.


The art of love is largely the art of persistence.  -- Albert Ellis


Key Principles You'll Need to Know When Teaching Arithmetic to Children with Autism

Teaching arithmetic to children with autism is simple and do-able if you follow some key principles that I'll explain here.  Following these guidelines will make this subject easier to understand and will help to ensure your child's success in learning math.

Using Flash Cards

We used flash cards extensively when my son was young.  They were great tools for learning and giving him lots of review.  You can use them for learning anything from number recognition  and counting to calculus, if your child goes that far.  Click here for ideas for how to use them effectively.

Abacus

I also used an abacus a lot to help him understand what the numbers and equations mean, and to learn counting.  Click here for tips on how to use an abacus effectively.


My greatest point is my persistence.  I never give up in a match.  However down I am, I fight until the last ball.  My list of matches shows that I have turned a great many so-called irretrievable defeats into victories. -- Bjorn Borg


Learning Single-Digit Equations

Once he had a better understanding of basic math concepts, I started working on helping him memorize math facts. Go here for ideas on how to help your child learn these facts.

Adding Two Digits to One Digit

After she has memorized the addition facts, the next step is to teach her to add two digits to one digit. Learning this skill brought us to a pitfall that I want to warn you about.  It’s a problem that I think is unique to autism.

Adding Two Digits to Two Digits

That pitfall can continue on as she learns to add two digits to two digits.  But patience and persistence and lots of practice are key here. 

More to Come

Follow along as I continue to write new articles designed to help you teach this subject to your child.  So be sure to check back again to find more ideas.

Click here for another article about teaching math that you may find to be helpful.

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