Topic | Math facts taking FOREVER with this child

This topic contains 8 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Sue 5 years, 4 months ago.

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  • Sue

    Now, I’m not really complaining–after all, he’s autistic and took more than a school year to learn to count past 15–but 12yo ds has been working on the 2+ addition facts literally all year. It took him all last year (and the first month of this school year) to become quick to answer the 0+ and 1+ facts orally or on paper. He so wants to move on to something more advanced and thinks he should be learning multiplication facts like his younger sister.

    The problem is, when he practices the 2+ facts either on paper, orally, or by clicking on online flash cards, I still hear him counting “8, 9–it’s 9” when he sees 2+7. He does that for all of them past 2+3 or maybe 2+4. I have heard it said many times not to move on until the math facts have been mastered. Now, I did teach the concept of subtraction when it came up in MEP Year 2 (I think it was Year 2; we dropped MEP for him a couple of months ago). He does understand the concept of subtraction, but again, he has to count back to find the answer anyway.

    I’m wondering where we should go next. This may all “click” with him sometime soon, but if not, it will take soooo loooong to get all the way through to 10+10. How have any of you handled it when it seems like it will take until high school to get past addition? Of course, some special needs kids do not ever get past addition, but…..NOT going to think that way, NOT going there! After working for more than a year lining up cars, animals, whatever, and counting carefully “1….2….3….” and patiently correcting his mistake of saying “firteen” to stand for “thirteen” and then skipping “fourteen” altogether, he just suddenly counted all of his cars one day and stopped at 30-something simply because he ran out of cars! So, I just never know what to expect or when.




    Hi Sue,

    What I’d be tempted to do is get the AlAbacus from RightStart – and some resources for you on how to use it.  (Possibly the RS Card Games…. possibly Level A, or the “Activities for AlAbacus Book”; the later is less scripted, but therefore you don’t feel the “I must go at this speed” which might be helpful.

    The Abacus is different from most manipulatives in that (for Side 1) he is actually manipulating the actual number of objects.  They work on recognizing the numbers from 1 to 5 without counting – and using a switch in colours you can identify the numbers 1 to 10 without counting…. which then allows you to manipulate the beads without actually counting them… which helps with learning to do the math without counting.    

    The card games allow for a fun way to practice math – and might be helpful for all your students… 

    hth some.


    Oh, Sue, what a blessing that he is progressing…that’s wonderful!!

    As far as how to help, I have no idea. I have a ds9 who struggles with basic addition/subtraction, after 4-5 years of consistently working on Math (we have only really changed his “program” one time, so it’s not from jumping around). He says he doesn’t like math anymore because it’s too hard. We haven’t even gotten to the “borrowing” concept! He’s familiar with multiplication, but this boy makes me crazy…..He’s a great speller/reader, so basically LA is where he’s strongest, but we have to get passed the basic someday.

    The only advice I have, that I’m really giving to myself is…be patient. It will all come together some day for his benefit…all of the hard work will pay off.

    Now this is in reference to my ds… he may never be a mathematician, and that’s okay, I just want him to be able to pay bills/manage his own financial life (not get “taken”)/grocery shop/have a decent awareness about how math affects our lives. Any higher level math will need a tutor to really help him and possibly have some “tricks” “explanations” that help him in a way that I can not. (Plus, sometimes he works better with all the emotion taken out of the way).

    Anyway, sorry I have no real advice, we’re kind of in the same boat…..2 steps forward, 3 steps back…..*sigh*

    Bless you for your endeavors.


    Rapid Recall by Little Giant Steps has been terrific for us and fact memorization. Dd11 is almost finished with division now. While she isn’t as fast as me, she knows without counting. We are going to move on to some speed drills to work on that aspect, but RR is how we’ve learned them painlessly.

    Life of Fred elementary books are good with the why of math.




    Okay, I’m gasping for air with sticker shock. Is Rapid Recall really that pricey? Or is it a one-time purchase for all of your kids for all four math operations?

    I have to admit that their pdf catalog has a whole lot of print, and I just can’t wrap my brain around all of that reading material right now; I just want to see the description and price!


    Here was my initial purchase kit –

    And yes it’s pricey, but we put the worksheets in sheet protectors and use dry erase pens so all 4 can use it.

    I did end up buying the visual input CDs for each operation – which means that my kids can do it 100% on their own.

    While the system is pricey, it’s been the only thing to help my dd11 learn her facts and do it painlessly. Now that she knows them, math is much less stressful!


    My 9-yo daughter is finally making progress on her addition/subtraction facts since we’ve been working through a book called Two Plus Two is Not Five by Susan Greenwald.  We used the RightStart abacus, different ways of doing flashcards, online games, card games – but she always ended up in tears.  The Greenwald book teaches all of the facts using tricks.  It’s very incremental – you start with one trick, practice it, add another trick, practice both tricks and so on.  It’s really helping – she’s gaining so much confidence, and making so much progress.  We are about 75% of the way through the book – and I’m already placing an order for the next book on multiplication.  


    Hi Sue, Have you ever looked at Math on the Level? Just one thought – are there other math concepts that you could work with, like simple hands-on fractions or geometric shapes or some cooking together or a craft project, puzzles, games, play store…..? We have needed to proceed very slowly with math facts, and my goals are to incorporate facts when possible with other types of “math” learning, and to keep variety and hopefully a sense of some kind of progress.



    Thanks for all of your suggestions. I am borrowing an abacus from our library (not quite color-coded like Right Start, though), and I’m going to see if that captures his attention and helps at all. He is more auditory that visual, so we’ll see. If the abacus seems to work, though, I might try to get the Right Start abacus and math games. That would be a little more affordable than Rapid Recall at this point, and I haven’t seen any Rapid Recall kits for sale on used sites.

    I think we are going to have to move on to other math concepts and spend time with geometric shapes and measurements, more telling time on analog clocks, money, fractions, etc.–just not moving on to multiplication yet. He does understand the concept of subtraction, but he won’t go too far with that without knowing his addition facts comfortably.

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