[Numeracy 302] Re: Mathematical Disabilities

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Susan Kidd SKidd at sbctc.edu
Mon Apr 12 19:42:37 EDT 2010

About twenty-five years ago I was tutoring a seventeen year-old high school student with severe math disabilities. The root of his problems seemed to be tied to sequencing - not just an inability to follow a set sequence, but a lack of basic understanding that there might be a reason to follow a sequence.

He had suffered damage to one of his eyes as a young child and had a blind spot just to one side of center. He had also lost quite a bit of schooling due to illness, and his parents had put him in a variety of different schools in an attempt to work with his disability. By the time I met him, he was attempting to learn algebra. He could multiply, but he couldn't add. He added on his fingers, but since he was somewhat random about which finger he started with, he made frequent mistakes on very simple computations.

What worked was lots of direct instruction. I taught him to set up linear equations for solving, vertically. For example, if the problem was X -3 = 4 - 7X I'd have him do one step at a time and be very clear about what he was doing:

X -3 = 4 -7X
+7X +7X
8X -3 = 4

I also encouraged him to develop calculator skills and keep a calculator with him at all times to help with addition problems.

That's about all I remember at this late date, but he did pass his algebra class and go on to college.


Susan Kidd
Integrated Program and Faculty Development Coordinator
State Board for Community & Technical Colleges
office phone: 509-682-6968
skidd at sbctc.edu

From: numeracy-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:numeracy-bounces at nifl.gov] On Behalf Of Denney, Brooke
Sent: Thursday, April 08, 2010 9:11 PM
To: Numeracy at nifl.gov
Subject: [Numeracy 298] Mathematical Disabilities

A question was posted to the list a while back that never received much discussion, the question asked if anyone had any experiences working with adults with documented or suspected disabilities and if so, how did you deal with their disability and teaching them numeracy/math skills.

There is an interesting article on that can be found on the LINCS Resource Basic Skills Mathematics & Numeracy Collection by Rochelle Kenyon, here is a direct link: http://www.nifl.gov/lincs/resourcecollections/abstracts/basicskills/RC_skills_abs21.html

But what experiences has anyone had directly working with this population that seems to be growing each year? And what "best practices" do you suggest?

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