Mathematics is an important part of life, pervading our everyday activities. Math is everywhere – in school, at work and in our leisure activities.Unfortunately (and unnecessarily) children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other information processing challenges, often experience difficulty, frustration, even failure in math.Educators and parents need not allow this to happen.Research has shown us that in order to increase math success for all learners, it is helpful to relate knowledge to be learned to meaningful experiences, creating exciting and relevant learning opportunities.Math instruction should engage all children at their own developmental level, teaching basic math concepts and skills.
Goals of Early Mathematics Instruction
Historically, math instruction in the primary grades has focused on building computation skills and memorizing basic facts.Less emphasis has been placed on application of math skills in real life situations, or on teaching problem solving strategies.The National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) have worked toward establishing new directions in math education, with more emphasis on problem solving and application.There is agreement between these two major organizations that the ultimate goal of mathematics instruction, especially for students with special needs, must be to prepare them to utilize math in later life.
In kindergarten through grade four, math skills in the curriculum address (a) reasoning and problem solving, (b) connections and communication through math, (c) number sense and numeration, (d) concepts of whole number operations and computation, (e) estimation, (f) geometry and spatial sense, (g) simple statistics and probability, (i) fractions and decimals, and (j) patterns and relationships. We now understand that children learn mathematics most readily when they construct their own mathematical understanding.To facilitate meaningful math learning, effective teachers incorporate into their educational programs consistent methods for solving number related problems that are encountered in everyday situations.Good math instruction requires that children receive systematic instruction in problem solving with engaging materials that lead to feelings of success and confidence.