In my past articles, I have mentioned about having a son with autism.
There are different spectrums of autism.
Some have severe behavioural problems and my son belongs to the group with delayed learning.
Without giving up, we have seen improvement in him in recent years.
As he would be proceeding to his Secondary school next week, it is important for him to have good money sense so that he knows how much to pay for his lunch on his own.
Money sense is very abstract for him.
When he does his calculation, he is still using fingers as he has not proceeded to the next stage of mental calculation but I am still going to coach him in this area in future.
The most immediate thing that I need for him is at least give enough money to pay for his food so that he only needs to collect the change from the lady over the counter without doing subtracting on the spot.
At this moment, it is hard for him to visualise the amount to pay for his food when he needs to count the money in his wallet.
Just imagine that he is still using his fingers.
I tried to get him to be more familiar with number bonds of 10 so that he can have better number sense for mental calculation.
Modified money sense
Since the actual way of counting money is really too hard and abstract for him.
As usual, I would modify the method so that he can still fulfil the objective in giving enough money from his wallet to pay for his food.
If you find it is an useful method, you can use it for younger kids.
Step 1: Recognise the coins and notes.
Step 2: How much to pay if the food costs $2.90.
Step 3: Get my son to focus only on $2 and ask him what is the number after 2.
When my son answers ‘3’, he simply need to give $3 to pay for his food and get back the change. (This remove the difficulty of counting the coins as he may be too slow)
I repeated Step 1 to step 3 with many other examples within $10.
By using the above method, he does not need to use his finger and he can pay for his food in a faster way.
After mastering paying money for food that is less than $10, I got him to learn how to pay for food that is more than $10.
He must master how to count by 10 first so that he can easily pick out $20 or $30.
Step 4: How much to pay if the food costs $13.40.
Step 5: Get my son to focus on $13 and ask him what is the number after 13.
When my son answers ‘14’, he simply need to give $14 to pay for his food and get back the change.
The fact that I do not focus on the cents but only focus on the dollars to make things easier for him so that he does not need to use his fingers but he can give the amount of money to the nearest dollar within seconds.
It is important that I present the method in a systematic manner so that he can follow well without confusion.
I must remember to keep things simple.
It is the initial stage of getting him to understand how he can pay for his food effectively since there are always impatient cashiers as well as students who may not have the patient to wait for him to use his fingers to count out the exact amount of money.
The modified money sense that I use is simply to use what he knows about counting to link it to practical use for payment he needs to make.
Most educators would know that I am using his prior knowledge of counting numbers and extend it to money sense that is a new concept to him.
By doing so, numbers and money are not isolated but they are related.
This makes learning easier.
I have also repeated the same method to teach within $10 (Step 1 to 3) and more than $10 (Step 4 to 5) payment using the same procedure to make it less confusion with the spiral effect/build up.
As parents or educators, we must try our best to link related topics and concepts so that learning is not isolated but provides relationship and extension of what they already know.
Getting students to see how one topic is related to another can form effective patterns that make learning easy.
This makes learning meaningful and more purposeful. Most students can master and remember more concepts when they are not isolated.
We should always consider how we can link what they already know to what they need to know.
I know some may agree while others may disagree with the modified method that I use for my son.
The most important is he is able to master how to pay effectively within seconds for him to cope with the urgent need as a self-help skill and life skill.
I certainly do not want his confidence to be affected but this can probably be a good initial stage to build his confidence in using money for payment and I can proceed to greater details of how to make payment in different amounts in future.
I have mentioned in more than one article before.
Every child can learn but not every child can learn the same way so when our children or student cannot learn in the normal way, we should modify the teaching method so that the same objective can be reached.
I hope you find it interesting how I have taught this modified money sense to my autistic son.
Disclaimer: This is my personal reflection and I am not in any position to instruct anyone what they should do. I am not responsible for any action taken as a result of this post. My post can only be a reference for your further research and growth. By reading this post, you acknowledge and accept that. All images and pictures were taken from google images that are free from copyright under labelled for reuse.