How to Teach Coins to Autistic Students

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Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that autistic students may be high- or low-functioning, verbal or non-verbal and everything in between. Teaching strategies for one autistic student may not work for another. In general, autistic individuals relate to visual and tactile cues over verbal ones (See References 1). When teaching coins as part of math curriculum and daily living, plenty of opportunities exist for activities using manipulatives to appeal to the senses of sight and touch. Cater coin lesson plans to each individual student based on their learning styles and interests.

Things You'll Need

  • Coins
  • Coin cutouts
  • Coin denomination chart
  • Props for mock store
  • Number signs
  • Number lines
  • Work one-on-one with the student when introducing her to pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. Introduce one coin denomination at a time.

  • Place the coin in her hand, say the name of the coin and the value of the coin. Point to a sign with the name of the coin and the value of the coin. Repeat for each coin and practice until the student is able to recognize each coin either by pointing to the signs or saying the name and value out loud.

  • Count with the student by ones, fives, tens, and twenty-fives. Practice visually through pointing at appropriate number lines; if the student is verbal, practice together out loud in addition to using the number lines.

  • Teach your student about coin combinations, such as two nickels equals a dime, by having her place two nickels on top of a 10 cent sign or under a dime cut-out. Repeat with different coin combinations including varying ones that add up to a dollar.

  • Make a chart, recommends Autism Help for You, that visually demonstrates how many of each coin make up a dollar and how many lower coins make up each higher denomination. Write the names and numbers of the coins on the chart as well. Work with the student through asking him questions prompting him to count or point to the chart. If the student speaks, encourage him to give either verbal or visual answers.

  • Teach your student a song related to coins, such as "Let's Count Coins" on the Hot Chalks Lesson Plans Page, if your student has an affinity to moving to music or singing rather than speaking.

  • Create a mock store for your student so she can practice accepting payment and making change for items. Use props that are related to your student's favorite passion or a subject that she is fixated on, and affix a price tag to each item. If she likes to draw, you could even make her art pieces merchandise for the store.

  • Practice with the student first with purchasing items through counting out the appropriate coins to pay for the item.

  • Allow the student to be the storekeeper so he can practice making change. Use the same techniques that have been successful in the past for teaching subtraction. Writing down the operation on a piece of paper may be more helpful than saying the operation out loud.

  • Set up a time for your student to practice with other students. For example, when he is comfortable "working at the store," invite one or more students to come shopping.

  • Allow your student to play visually-stimulating online computer games related to coins if she has an affinity for them. The Resources section has three examples of online games.

Tips & Warnings

  • Transform any money worksheet into a three-dimensional, tactile experience. For example, rather than having the student circle coins on a page, provide him with coin cut-outs that he can physically manipulate to come up with the correct answer.

References

  • Photo Credit coins image by Tomasz Nowicki from Fotolia.com
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