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Transcript of Mathematics Interventions
for students with high functioning Autism/asperger's Syndrome
With regard to neuropsychological characteristics, high functioning autism and asperger's have signigicant similarities and differences. "Further study by Macintosh and Dissanayake found minimal qualitative differences between HFA and AS, providing empirical evidence to support a unitary treatment of these disorders." For the purpose of this article, the two are combined and referred to as HFA/AS. A mathematics disability is shared by at least 25% of students with HFA/AS. There are several strategies that have been recommended for treating students with learning disabilities in mathematics.
Strategy #2: Direct Instruction
Strategy #4: Concrete-Representational-Abstract (CRA)
Why Do HFA/AS Students Struggle With Math?
Strategy #3: Goal Structure
Strategy #5: Integrated Behavioral Experiential Teaching (IBET)
Strategies for Building Comprehension and Enabling Participation
Jeffrey b. donaldson and dianne zager
Math concepts can be demonstrated through visual examples, but are often accompanied by sophisticated verbal instruction
Math terminology can be very complex and is challenging for students who struggle with processing the language of everyday interactions
Along with the verbal and representational expressions of a number, there is also the symbolic representation in the form of numerals
They may have motor skill deficits
Strategy #1: Self-Regulation
Self-regulation involves students completing checklists as they perform computations, with reminders for each step
Teacher feedback follows completion of the tasks
With self-regulation, student solution accuracy increased as their mood became more positive
Verbal feedback strategies, in which students are asked to repeat important directions that will strengthen the concepts, helps create structure and ensure that the student comprehends each step
Direct instruction is the use of systematic instruction that demonstrates how to perform tasks, prompts, and guides the learner, and reinforces correct responses
Direct instruction is suggested for teaching computation or problem solving because it takes a cognitive skill and breaks it into smaller steps
Accurate responses are rewarded; inaccurate responses are redirected, by redirecting a student, the teacher takes the student’s answer and reminds them of the mathematical concepts that apply to the problem.
Van Houten and Rolider used a direct instruction strategy for computation and taught students to match a numeral to a specific color to teach number names. Two thirds of the subjects tested demonstrating 100% accuracy 4 months posttest.
Goal structure utilizes goal setting and contingent rewards for completion of mathematics tasks
Students with HFA/ AS often have restricted interests, the key to students setting goals is that they must be invested in reaching it
Students demonstrated some improvement after setting personal goals for themselves, knowing that rewards were in store for strong performance
In CRA, students are first shown concrete examples (two halves of an apple), then a representation (a picture of two halves of a square), followed by the abstract depiction of the concept (the fraction 1/2)
CRA addresses the challenge in processing abstract concepts by using multi-sensory models
Students who were learning about word problems, with no previous exposure to word problems, performed at a mean level of 87% when using a CRA sequence
IBET has been developed specifically for the needs of the HFA/AS population in mathematics
IBET uses elements of direct instruction in its use of behavioral principles (rewarding students for accurate responses)
This strategy uses CRA in its emphasis on concrete presentation of stimuli first (often through real-life experiences, then a transition to photographic representations, followed by abstract symbols) to integrate skills in order to create a vivid concrete experience for the student
The goal of IBET is to utilize students’ direct personal experiences to make learning applicable through the combination of photographs, experiential learning, and reinforcement
Because students with HFA/AS are challenged in their processing of abstract concepts, CRA is a useful model of instruction for these students
Use a variety of manipulatives to help students generalize concepts across materials
If a student has ongoing difficulty with printing numerals, provide an alternative. Using number stamps or performing on the computer can enable a student to participate more effectively
Since many students enjoy using the computer, try to incorporate mathematical software that provides visuals that clearly explain and demonstrate concepts
If necessary, break up the instructional period into several discrete segments
Real Life Experiences
Cooking and baking:
at the grocery store
Using rulers and
It is similar to traditional teaching, the teacher implements instructional procedures designed to support the student's acquisition of the target skill
It differs in that the instruction is distributed across the activities that typically occur in the classroom setting rather than being presented one after another
Instruction is presented when teaching opportunities occur naturally during activities like music, movement, art, circle time, transition activities, and outdoor play
If a teacher has a student with HFA/AS in his or her classroom, there is a one in four chance that student will demonstrate difficulties with math
Depending on the difficulties the student demonstrates, a teacher may select interventions or strategies geared toward the specific age, instructional needs, and motivation of the individual student
Donaldson, J. B., & Zager, D. (2010). Mathematics interventions for students with high functioning autism/
Ontario Ministry of Education. (2015). Teaching and learning. Retrieved from
Su, H. F. H., Lai, L. and Rivera, H. J. (2010). Using an exploratory approach to help children with autism learn
asperger’s syndrome. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 42, 40-46.
mathematics. Creative Education, 1, 149–153. doi:10.4236/ce.2010.13023