How I Encouraged My Autistic Son’s Interest in Numbers and Math


When my son turned 3 years old, I noticed he was interested in numbers. He learned how to count one until 20 at the age of 4 and could count one to 100 at 5 years of age. He learned all these through self-teaching by watching a children’s educational show on TV.

I was amazed by the way he quickly learned how to count, so I bought him a number book and tested his ability to say the numbers. I was in great awe at how quickly he said the numbers. So I tested him again by pointing to the numbers I wanted him to tell me and he was able to say it correctly.

Through his interest in numbers, my son gradually learned how to communicate with me. He did not speak that much at that time because he just started to learn how to talk. His interest in numbers grew. I saw him counting the pages of our telephone directory until 1,000 all by himself. It was fascinating to see him fully engaged with his counting.

Teaching Time Conversions

When my son was about 9 to 10 years old, I taught him how to convert the time. I taught him how to convert hours to minutes, minutes to seconds and hours to seconds. I taught him using a visual aid (our wall clock) and explained to him that one hour is equivalent to 60 minutes which goes from one to 12. Number one is equivalent to five minutes. I also explained to him that the shorthand corresponded to seconds and that one minute is equivalent to 60 seconds. He was able to learn this quickly and could convert hours to minutes and minutes to seconds immediately in his mind alone.

 

Keeping Up With the Times Table

I was thrilled when I heard my son learning the times table by himself for the first time when he was 10 years old. He was able to memorize the times table from one up to 12 times table. I tested his ability by randomly asking him questions and as expected, he was able to give me the correct answers. A gifted child indeed when it comes to numbers!

Entry Level Three Maths Test

My son took his first Entry Level Three Test in Mathematics when he was in year 12. His teacher gave him practice test papers to take home to answer, and I was thrilled at the way he quickly answered the test. He was focused and eager to finish his math practice test on time. I told him not to rush and to understand what is being asked of him to do. It’s all word problems he needed to work out in order to get additional marks. I taught him some essential keywords he should try to learn so he will know right away what particular method to use. He passed his actual Entry Level Three Maths Test with very good marks. He got 19 correct answers out of 20. Almost a perfect score!

GCSE and Functional Maths Test

My son’s special interest in numbers has gone a long way and has further improved because after taking the Entry Level Three in Mathematics last year, he took his GCSE Maths Test. He also took his Functional Skills in Maths this June. Both examination results would be released this August. I’m hoping for the best to whatever the results would be!

Having a special interest in maths helped provide relaxation to my son and helped him understand the physical world. It gave him an outlet to overcome his anxiety. It gave him a sense of identity and self-esteem. This also gave him the opportunity to have social conversations with me and with others as well to exercise his intellectual ability.

My child’s special interest has been a way for him to communicate with me. Through play, I was able to build his trust and encouraged him to communicate to lessen his social anxiety.

His ability to concentrate and focus for long periods of time to his special interest is remarkable. All it took was for me to have patience, perseverance and positivity that my child could achieve whatever his mind is telling him to do. Every achievement is a milestone we always celebrate.

Enhancing his special interest through encouragement and constant practice has helped my son improve his numerical ability. I taught him in a way that is stimulating and fun by making each experience an enjoyable one!

I believe his special interest in mathematics will be his stepping stone for a better future and contribution in today’s busy world. Who knows, perhaps he could be next Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton? Besides math, my son also has a special interest in learning languages specifically Spanish, French and German.

How about you? What is your child’s special interest? Are there things you do to help enhance or encourage your child’s special interest?

A version of this story originally appeared on Del’s blog.

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