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Maths concepts - Autistic pupil.

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by Kinell, Mar 18, 2012.

  1. Hi everyone,

    I'm currently tutoring a Y3 boy who has autism and I'm looking for some advice. He is very bright, but is really struggling in maths due to a lack of understanding of the basics - the number system and the concepts of the four operations. He is verbal, yet much of his speech is echolalic and doesn't seem to be relevant to the task he is completing at the time (to an observer, I mean - to him it is relevant). He will answer straightforward, closed questions, yet if he doesn't know the answer it is difficult to figure out why, or what part of the task he is struggling with. His memory is excellent and he knows some of his times tables but I don't think he understands the concept of multiplication, he has just learned them by rote.

    I had a bit of a breakthrough with addition not long ago and he is now able to carry out simple addition using counters or toy animals and he understands the process, however, I am really struggling to help him understand subtraction. Part of the problem is he is really uncomfortable with the idea of 'taking things away'. For example, if we set out e.g. 6 counters and 'take away 3', he often gets quite upset.

    With single digit numbers, we have able to 'count on' to find the difference using our fingers and he was able to do this. I'm a bit worried about it though because I don't think it is helping his understanding of subtraction at all, in fact I think counting on to find the difference felt exactly like 'adding' to him.

    I know this is a really individual case, I just wondered if there was anyone out there with any other ideas of methods of teaching the concept of subtraction. Also, if anyone has any experience working with autistic children that they would like to share, that would be great too. I've cross posted this to maths and SEN. Thanks in advance.
  2. I use numicon with a lot of my ASD pupils across all levels. Its visual, tactile and they have great set lessons and games to support concepts in number work. Could be useful for intervention.
  3. Could you use a computer programme? My class find this so much easier than anything I say. There are loads of programmes available some may even be free, a very simple one with some maths in it is www.busythings.co.uk
  4. jessed

    jessed New commenter

    I agree, Numicon is great for my Autistic class!
  5. Thank you all very much for your replies. A colleague at a previous school used numicon as an intervention and said that it worked well. There are some free resources online too so I'll look into it because I do like the visual/ kinesthetic aspect to it.

    Thanks for the computer suggestion too - he doesn't do very well with computers, particularly if they have flash/ animations to them. He hates videos and won't look at TV screens but he has just got an iPad and enjoys some of the games on there (strange!) so I'm going to look into games for the iPad too.

  6. Try maths bingo as an app been hugely popular with the kids I tutor

  7. Thanks for the tip!
  8. I think this is okay. Most of us carry out subtraction using this method anyway, eg when shopping. It is certainly the way I've been told I should teach subtraction, in more than one school. Yes, I know that he will need to understand that addition is the opposite of subtraction but that can come later and he will start to see that finding the difference isn't adding the two numbers together.

    I also use numicon and I think this can help pupils see that addition and finding the difference are related but different concepts.

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