Teacher Toolbox
Learning Strategies - Mathematics


math problemDue to the cognitive impairments found in some disorders, these children often exhibit difficulties in mathematics.  Studies have indicated that these effects could impact the child’s ability to encode verbal and visual information. Inefficient encoding could impede the child’s registration of information in memory and impact the integration of the information needed to form concepts.  In addition, difficulties with the processing of visual-spatial information are associated with certain disorders such as fetal alcohol effects. This could hinder the child’s ability to create mental representations to support problem solving needed in math. 

Math Proficiency

According to the Mathematics Learning Study Committee of the National Research Council published in 2001 (Adding It Up, 2001, Washington, D.C.:  National Academy Press, www.nap.edu or www.national-academies.org) students need to acquire five elements to become proficient in math.

The Five Components of Math Proficiency
  • Conceptual Understanding: knowledge of the mathematic operations and their relationships
  • Procedural Fluency: ability to select, apply and flexibly use the procedures to solve problems
  • Strategic Competency: ability to create, represent, and solve mathematical problems
  • Adaptive Reasoning: use of logical thought to demonstrate, explain, and verify the solutions
  • Productive Disposition: positive attitude toward mathematics that includes the understanding of the usefulness of math

Adding It Up, 2001, pg. 117

With effective instruction, children with special needs can develop the knowledge, skills, and the positive attitudes and habits to progress in mathematics.