Home » Chapter 5: The FASD Student & Learning Issues » Educational Strategies for Difficulties with Mathematics

Educational Strategies for Difficulties with Mathematics

Number Concepts

Students may have difficulty with number concepts. Although a student may be able to count, the numerical concepts may not be understood. An important goal for the FASD student is to develop number concepts, including the concept of greater than or lesser than

  • Create a physical representation and pair this with verbal information
  • Use concrete materials when possible; making the connection between the manipulative and the number symbol
  • Use manipulatives: Unifix Cubes, Cuisenaire Rods, Base 10, and blocks
  • Use art projects to create numbers that students can see and feel—decorate with glitter, noodles, yarn, etc.
  • Use a number line, fingers, or anything that works

Basic Math Facts

Teaching practical math is the goal. Simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, division facts, and basic fractions skills should be taught within the context of life skills. Due to memory weakness, memorization of the multiplication table may be problematic. Division may also prove to be difficult. Some students are quick in mental arithmetic, others benefit from a calculator. Many students resort to counting on their fingers or making tally marks on paper. Math vocabulary can be confusing.

  • Use concrete objects/manipulatives to introduce basic math facts.
  • Relate math facts to student’s life experiences.
  • Use a multi-sensory approach; this gives meaning to the rule and helps with remembering the rule
    • Sing math facts
    • Chant math facts
    • Draw pictures of math facts
  • Use a multi-sensory program such as “Making Math Real”
    • Say a fact aloud, write the fact, read the fact
    • Use a recorder and headsetboard math
    • Use computer programs to practice math facts
    • Use a number line
    • Use a calculator
  • Learn by doing
    • Create a student store, post office or bank; practice basic computation
    • Use cooking; practice fractions and measuring

Successful Math Interventions

  • Make the math page user-friendly
  • Reduce the number of math problems on a page
  • Keep a simple layout; this reduces frustration, as well as visual distraction
  • Put the same types of problems on one page (only addition)
  • As the student becomes proficient, gradually add new problems to the page
  • Practice math facts
    • Daily for short periods of time; this may lead to automaticity
    • Practice and more practice—overlearn
  • Teach math at a slow pace
  • Allow extended time on quizzes or assignments
  • Use consistent math vocabulary

Computational Skills

Computations require a sequential process; sequencing is a difficult skill for many FASD students. Use the above-mentioned strategies. Further strategies are required for computation skills such as: regrouping in addition and subtraction, double-digit multiplication, and long division.

Processing Cards and Checklist

  • Assist with sequencing steps
  • Create checklists for sequencing
  • Create “process” cards to break down the computation in a step-by-step format
  • Allow checklists or process cards to be used during testing

Math Cards
Use Discovery Learning with Guided Learning

  • Use concrete objects, multi-sensory method, group work
  • Provide cues and guide student to the conclusion/answer

Problem Solving

Problem solving requires making the abstract concrete.

  • Include the student’s name in the word problem
  • Visualize the problem; draw a picture
  • Highlight key words in the problem

Spatial Directionality and Organization

Confusion regarding left/right may make it difficult to know where to start.

  • Use a highlighter to help the student know where to begin
  • Teach visual and verbal cues to remember where to start

Use graph paper to help with spatial organization

  • Use for column addition, double-digit multiplication, subtraction with regrouping, and long division

I was a whiz at fractions, long division, for about as long as I was doing the examples,
till she wrote out a couple for me to do on a paper or another board.
Big rosey blank! Then as she started to explain, she would get maybe
five words out, then bang, I could do it.
(Copeland and Rutman, 1996)
One student said, “If I can’t do it today, I’ll get it tomorrow and,
if I can’t get it then, there’s always the calculator.”
(Kleinfeld, Morse, and Wescott, 2000)

Memory Aidscalculator

Weak information-processing and memory skills may interfere with consistent ability to retrieve information.

  • Allow student to use calculator if needed
  • Allow students to use the multiplication table if needed
  • Provide examples of problems