Times tables for Autistic children
Maths is a difficult subject for many children, particularly those on the autism spectrum. It requires them to think abstractly and process complex concepts that they may find difficult. Learning times tables continues to act as an early rite of passage in both state and independent schools, so Education Boutique's Director, Lucy Alexandra Spencer, gives us her top three tips for supporting Autistic learners with mastering their times tables.
Use visual aids
Autistic children often find visual aids helpful in understanding concepts like times tables. Visual aids can be anything from flashcards with numbers written on them, to arrays made of familiar items, showing how the times tables work. Using pictures and objects that have personal relevance or presenting times tables in many different situations can boost interaction and familiarity greatly.
"Whenever I introduce a times table, I do so in a multi-sensory way. Where music and noise are an option, we start with listening, humming and singing. Sometimes we may create our own tune or sometimes we may use YouTube. Next, we 'play' with the number sequences and arrays. That could be with objects, pictures or even using a large teaching clock to stimulate or play - great as it has numbers to 12."
Break down complex concepts into smaller steps
Times tables involve multiple steps that need to be learnt before students can master the concept as a whole. It’s important to break down these steps into smaller chunks so that students don’t become overwhelmed by the complexity of the concept. Start by introducing one step at a time and practice each step until it is mastered before moving onto another step. This approach allows students to build their knowledge gradually instead of trying to learn everything at once, which could cause confusion and frustration for both you and your students.
"This could look different for a leach student but as an example: Counting in 2, sequences, arrays, repetition, multiple choice, rapid recall."
Using technology can be a great way to help engage autistic children in learning their times tables. There are many apps available that are specifically designed to help teach maths concepts like times tables in an engaging and interactive way; allowing educators to select games that fit with our student's interests. My personal favourite is Blooket, where students can play games such as 'Tower Defence', 'Cafe' or 'Gold Rush' against classmates or against the computer.
Helping autistic children learn their times tables doesn't have to feel daunting or overwhelming - there are lots of strategies that teachers and SENCOs can use when teaching maths concepts like these! By using visual aids, breaking down complex concepts into smaller steps, and utilising technology such as apps or games, teachers can make maths easier and more enjoyable for autistic children while still ensuring they master essential skills like memorising multiplication facts. With these tips in mind, teaching times tables can become an achievable goal.
About the author
As a qualified teacher, Lucy Alexandra Spencer founded Education Boutique with the hope of impacting education globally. She now travels the world as a trusted education adviser, winning Female Entrepreneur of the Year at the Thames Valley Awards 2021 and, most notably, joining the Eteach team in 2021. She is thrilled Education Boutique has become the tutoring element within the Eteach Group and feels so lucky to be able to combine her passions for teaching and educational consultancy in this dynamic partnership.