BigGuy has a math facts issue. He can correctly answer all of his addition and subtraction math facts in 3 seconds or less when being drilled on xtramath.org; but when he attempts to do them in any other scenario, he can barely even walk himself through figuring them out. Even if he’s using his fingers. It’s IN. SANE. Especially given his very typically autism spectrum memory. The child remembers everything. Just not math facts. WTF?
I even went through the xtramath site to see if there was some loophole he was getting through–but no. It’s so weird and so infuriating. But I’ve since met two other parents of kids who cannot manage to memorize math facts but can do higher level math. One of them was being homeschooled because the lack of memorized math facts had her kid held back in math for two years. He came home and dove into algebra with no problem.
That is the fundamental problem with many of the schools: sometimes, they are just NOT looking at what is truly prerequisite knowledge to move on. Honest to goodness–memorization of math facts does not mean a child can’t move on to algebra, geometry or calculus.
Lack of this memorization will absolutely slow them down in a test scenario. In situations where a timed test is the requirement to move ahead, I see how this problem might be unintentionally overlooked. But at the younger grades where this is happening, it’s not the testing that places them in their math groups–it’s the teacher’s observation. And a teacher who sees a kid that doesn’t have facts memorized assumes that the kid can’t do anything “harder”. I’ve watched this happen. I’ve actually HAD this conversation with one or two teachers that could not open their mind enough to acknowledge that rote memorization was not prerequisite to algebra. We had at-length discussions about how a child could conceptually understand adding some number to another number to get more but not memorize the facts.
So this is BigGuy’s problem. It has been for a few years. He’s coming along slowly. There are plenty of things we could probably doing about it and we haven’t up to this point. One person suggested having a math fact table (like the Addition Chart at this link) available to them when they are doing their work–allowing them to memorize their facts by repetition over a longer period of time. I forget what else was recommended because this was the path we planned to go if needed.
For now, BigGuy is still counting on fingers and trying to remember. But as he creeps steadily towards his goals in life (all of which are math and science based), it’s going to get ugly.