Autistic kids struggle with mental fragmentation, and this makes the concept of an unbroken linear, regularly spaced "number line" foreign and hard to absorb for them. Imagine if someone asked you to count and you had 7 tape measures each measuring different parts of it - like 1-7 is on one tape measure, 9-10 on another, and 8 and 11-13 on another, etc. It's confusing. There is nowhere to see them as an unbroken line and no habit of trying to merge them. This is what it's like for autistic kids, in my opinion. This is also why kids with autism get so focused on and successful in science and math and music because it's the first place linear concepts are taught and we hold into that (yes I'm autistic too!) for dear life and see things built upon that, without which regular social interactions and "regular life" has no such anchoring and we feel confused by it. I remember being so great at the Periodic Table and a brilliant science student because those things could explain everything and nothing was left out. It's like the linear space for those kids gifted with math - there is nothing you cannot describe mathematically, or model, at least at some level and eventually.
Teaching Anna about number lines and brushing hair today 7/1/17
In this video I'm trying to teach my daughter in such a way that she has can create that continuous number line in her mind's eye - or the conceptualization of it - as the anchor on which to build all math comprehension. (There is a big section on brushing hair that happened in passing at the beginning - I'll do another video about hair brushing and washing challenges at another time.) My recent computer science studies reminded me how computers in the end only do incrementing, decrementing and comparison (greater than / less than / equal) so, fundamentally I understand people as doing the same with numbers at the most fundamental level. (For example, multiplication is just multiple incrementing, exponentials are just multiple multiplication, etc.) All math then falls apart, makes no sense or has foundation to grow on if you have no mental construct of an unbroken and potentially endless number line. I get so upset when all the people I have ever instructed to see things in fundamentals over the last 8 years don't see what I see but I think this may be a special gift I have since I'm autistic too - at least borderline so at this point. If you don't understand regular movements of the same size - like stepping and counting for each step or counting up a number as you lift each finger one by one, you don't understand what those numbers "mean" (this is Anat's influence on me - seeing how movement underlies cognitive comprehension, and how knowing is impaired by disorderly movement).
I have worked with my daughter so many times on creating a regular number line on her fingers, as well as on a meterstick. I realized I should start recording before she understands it all and people won't have the opportunity to see how to teach this themselves.
In this video I'm catching the end of our session today where we're working on putting numbers on a number line in a context she cares about and is motivated to accomplish it. Son-Rise and Anat Baniel Method Neuromovement ("ABMN") both couch learning in a context that the child actually wants to develop the skills you want them to, too. Anna ran out of digestive enzymes/probiotic (Enzymedica Digest Gold + Probiotics) that were part of the cure of her Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). (This IBD cure which I designed succeeded - see past blogs on this - and I am writing a book with the protocol). I have always wondered if these supplements were an essential element of the cure or not, since she used them at the time she was cured and never stopped. This was an opportunity to test whether they were key in maintaining her recovery. I told her she needed to put the prices per capsule on Amazon - which I calculated - on a number line in order to determine the least expensive per capsule. I did this because she couldn't tell me which of the 5 numbers was the least expensive - she flat out guessed at numbers in the middle of the range - and I thought she needed the number line to understand my question.
She demonstrates she doesn't understand what least and most mean. In fact, I decided to record this video when I asked her which was least expensive and she was flat out guessing the answers incorrectly, and when I asked her what it it would "mean" to buy something least expensive, or what "most expensive" meant, expecting she might say "you pay more money for it" or something else evidencing comprehension through rewording, she could only repeat back that least expensive meant it was least expensive. She didn't understand the word or math concept of what I was asking. The more fundamental, huge and "worse" the lack of comprehension, the more important to address and focus there and the more the return. It means you've struck gold in understanding how to recover someone from autism. Yeah!!
She struggles but eventually gets it. Then we celebrated and ordered the supplements after the video. A happy ending and she is finally, through visuals, coming to understand least and most and how that is expressed through a number line. Thanks for reading, do try this at home, and let me know if it's useful for you! Do like our video, too, if you want to encourage me to publish more!