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Older teens with Asperger's and math issues?

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Just wondeirng if any of you who have teens with Asperger's who have had math issues, does this ring a bell? I have cut and pasted a letter I sent to my DD's math insturctor--


"Hello, Ms XXXXX. Mrs. YYYYYYY. After a long afternoon with our daughter Hope we are able to pinpoint where her problems are originating.


Hope reads the textbook, takes pages of notes, works through the examples, does the practice, looks over her errors (and researches the text and the notes to find why she is making errors), makes notations beside her errors, tries the problem again, understands it, and moves on. She does everything she is supposed to be doing. Here is where the problem lies, with a specific example.


From the text: In 1.6 the topic is Polynomial Inequalities. Hope understood the topic, took notes, and worked the problems. Then, in 1.7 the subject is Linear Inequalities, and in Objective 3, Solving Compound Inequalities, Union and Intersection are introduced. This she also understood and applied to her homework flawlessly.


Fast forward to the quiz. Question #5 says Solve the Polynomial Inequality. So Hope, who has a memory like a steel trap, flashes back to Lesson 1.6, Polynomial Inequalities, and proceeds to solve the problem based upon the skills she learned in 1.6 (she has memorized all notes and key points she learned). HOWEVER, when she checks the solution, it shows the Union and Interesection approach from 1.7, which came after 1.6.


So Hope, being extremely logical in her thinking, says, "Why would they ask us to solve a problem from 1.6 with a method we don't learn until 1.7? We are told to never assume anything in Math and Science, so I am certainly not going to assume I can use something I learned for one concept and just arbitrarily apply it to another concept without being told to do so."


Another example: Hope was working through a problem and one of her solution steps resembled q(q + y + z). The MML solution looked like q^2 + (q x y) + (q x z). Hope was puzzled why the MML step didn't look like hers. So, because she thought she was doing something wrong, in the next example she did it the way they did it (above). Lo and behold, their answer resembled what she had done the first time! This confused Hope, because there was no explanation of why they jumped from one way of writing to another. Although this is 2 different ways of writing the same thing, it was an arbitrary change, with no rationale behind it.


I asked my husband (who has PhD in Chem) what his thinking is, and he said, "well, they are the same thing, just a different way of writing it. So they (the MML writers) are assuming you know that." I agreed, yes, they are assuming, but the writers should 1) never assume and 2) explain why the change in style -- for a particular reason or for no reason? Don't leave the students wondering about the seeming inconsistency.


It is examples like these that fill Hope with self-doubt. She understands the concepts completely, but when the writers make an arbitrary change (with no mention of the reason why) or do something out-of-sequence (as in the Quiz #5 example) she isn't sure whether to doubt the validity of the text, or herself.


This also happened in her Math classes in school . A teacher would be explainaing how to solve a problem, and being human, would leave out a step or forget to mention a key point. Hope would become confused: why did the teacher jump from a to c and leave out b? Was this intentional? Did the teacher not realize he/she was forgetting a step? And then in the next example the teacher would forget another obvious step and Hope would silently question that, too--was it intentional or not? Because it wasn't following the rules of math the teacher had just posted 5 minutes ago! Of course, Hope never asked questions because she thought she was the only one misunderstanding, all the other kids seemed to go along with it (let's face it, most of them probably weren't even paying attention).


On a lighter note: if you think this is rough, you should see what it is like living with her! She has an incredible memory for coding and sequence and patterns (hence her genius IQ), which works very well for cryptography and doing intense legal briefs, but in everyday life it can become a real hindrance and actually bogs her down in minutae.


Anyway, we are asking if you have ever encountered this before among any of your students? We know you are extremely busy and just a few words will help us so much. Ultimately, Hope may have to withdraw from the class and enroll in some kind of self-paced program which allows the instructor (God bless 'em) to address each and every question Hope has.


We thank you so much.


The YYYYYYYY family in burbia"

Edited by distancia
broader topic range
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My ds does not have that problem with math, but he does have that problem in general. If you ask him to complete a job doing w, x, and y and z seems completely obvious, he will stop at y b/c z is not completely obvious to him.


He had difficulty completing a business project last semester b/c the teacher's parameters were not real. She wanted them to propose a business plan for avoiding bankruptcy for a family, but the numbers that she proposed as being "fine" prior to their business slowing down were in reality completely unrealistic.


I posted about it before, so this is just a cut and paste of an old post:



This became an issue for our ds b/c the major project for the term required the balancing of a family budget for a couple that was on the brink of bankruptcy. The numbers given in their original budget and their original income prior to the recession did not match. The teacher's assertion was that the recession hurt their business and reduced their monthly intake to only $5000/month. (for example, their original income was supposedly $150,000/yr but their monthly outflow prior to the recession was approx. $20,000/mo......so the income/outflow didn't match prior to the recession)


Ds met with the teacher and tried to comprehend what actually happened. Her response to him was the numbers didn't matter, only how he dealt with the budget to avoid the bankruptcy. He ended up making an 83 on the project, but he didn't understand anything that he did b/c he couldn't get beyond the invalidity of the original assumptions. It was too theoretical for his literal thinking. The teacher was not interested in helping him understand at all, either.


Anyway, I just wanted to post b/c I read your original post on the high school board and now knowing that your dd is an Aspie, it is very probable that the problem is not the math program but the way your dd is interpreting the info. Just like in our ds's class........other kids could understand that the original numbers were essentially irrelevant to the project. Ds's position was that they would never have qualified for the mortgage, car loans, etc and have been able to eat even prior to the recession. True, but that didn't matter b/c that wasn't the pt of the assignment. For your dd.......problems have multiple ways of being solved. It isn't at all unusual for different strategies be used for solving alg. One student might solve for variable x while another solve for y. It really doesn't make an iota of difference. Students understanding the bigger picture realize that. I don't think it is an inappropriate leap for avg students. It is difficult for literal thinkers.


I hope that the teacher is willing to work with your dd to help her make the leap to understand that those expressions are equal and that it doesn't matter one way or the other. Our experience with our ds's professor was not encouraging. I don't fault the teacher b/c the issue really is our ds's problem with the way he processes information.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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My Aspie has immense struggles with math. He memorized his math facts in a few hours, literally. But application is just impossible. He is almost 15, but we consider him to be an 8th grader, and he is still struggling with basic arithmetic. I have tried just about every math program out there, and we are finally having small successes with the Key to... series, but it's still not pretty. It's horribly discouraging - for both of us.


He is in the middle of another round of academic and cognitive testing right now, and I'm praying that the evaluator will have some real, concrete help for me. The last time he was tested he was only 10, and the only suggestion I got was to put him in school and let them deal with it. This time, I chose an evaluator who not only has a masters in special education, but has also graduated 3 children from homeschooling.

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Listening and learning. I'm wondering if we'll run into this too. Mine are younger but the inflexibility is there. I'm hoping we can build that part of the brain back through RDI therapy.:bigear:



We have had a lot of success with RDI. My son only has brief flashes of the inflexibility that used to rule his life, and now when they do happen, he recognizes it and usually comes to apologize later. It's very nice. It does take a lot of work, though. My younger child still has a long way to go, but she also had further to go than her brother. When we started RDI with her, she would scream and cry anytime I tried to enforce any sort of limit. And when I would introduce a variation into anything, she would meltdown.


And in keeping with the math theme of the thread, I started using Right Start math with her last summer after having years of her not being able to comprehend the basics of simple addition. Unlike her brother, she does not have a mind for memorizing math facts. Right Start has been a Godsend for her. She is nearly done with level B already, and this is a child who spent 2.5 YEARS on the addition lessons of MUS Alpha without making any progress at all. Now she is adding double-digit numbers in her head, with regrouping. I wish I had used Right Start with my other children.

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