Thursday, October 6, 2011

Teaching money to FAS kids

This is always a tough one.  Time and money.  Something that FAS children have a very hard time grasping.  No matter how many times you do it, the concept seems to elude them.  Many parents of FAS children have this issue.  We gave up on time.  Well, for the most part.  See, one day it hit me like a ton of bricks in the doc's office.  Doc asked how Irina was doing.  I said fine but she can't seem to learn time.  Explained to her.  I then said "I want her to learn how to tell time on an analog clock."  Neuro said " but Stephanie, you said I want."  It is not about what you want or even what Irina wants but what she needs.  Can she tell basic time?  I said yes.  Can she read a digital clock?  yes.  She said everything is digital now.  Microwaves, cell phones, wrist watches.  As long as she knows she has to be at a job at X:XX, then, it's alright.  She can look at the digital clock and do just fine. 

From that point on, I looked at what Irina learned differently.  Was it a life skill necessary and how deep are we willing to go.  Is it worth the chaos and frustration this may cause my child?  If the  answer was no, we just didn't do it.  That is the approach I take now.  Right now, we are working on money w/ the homeschoolers.  It is evident, NONE of my kids understand money.  Bojan and Yana seem to understand the most but even they need help from time to time.  Shoot, I know some adults who need help w/ money.  LOL.  Just look at all the shows dedicated to debt or saving money or such.  Plenty.

Anyhow, the homeschoolers are learning money.  Alex has a fairly good concept of what the coins are and how much they're worth.  He has no idea how money works, or how to make change or things of that nature.  That was evident Walmart when he handed over all his money to the cashier instead of what she needed.  Alyona has no idea.  Not even the value of the penny.  "Little #1" knows some values.(he's only 3 btw)  Nik knows some but not all as well.  So, today I got out some money.

First, I handed out everyone money.  Play money of course.  Though Nik had a VERY hard time understanding that he could not spend this money.  He kept signing Walmart.  And yes, one of the "littles" was here so he too participated.

We then went over every denomination of currency.  We explained how each country has their own kind of money.  This is only good in the United States.  Trust me, you need to explain this one.  I explained why people mainly carry around dollars versus all those coins. 

They each got a bag and put their name on it.  They were to go "shopping" in the house.  Since FAS kids are literal (& little ones for that matter), I had to explain that you can NOT keep what you pick up.  They were to get 3 items and bring it back to the store 

 Not sure why Alyona has a sour puss face on.  That watermelon is delicious btw.

They returned and all picked out stuffed animals.  Alex also picked out a hat.  I made up values and they had to hand me the money.  All did fairly well for the most part.  I stuck w/ easy numbers and will increase in difficulty over the next few days.  Kids with FASD need to have something tangible and visible to be able to grasp a concept.  It helps immensely to do hands on learning with them.  I told them once we get this concept, we're going to Dollar General for a candy bar.  They have to pay for it.  Real money of course.  In addition, they have to give the right amount of money.  They are excited and ready to do this.  I do think they'll be able to get the basics.  Probably not Alyona but the others yes.  And even Alyona I think can get maybe some dollars and quarters.  We'll get there.  I can say from experience it is vital you teach them young and keep teaching them money.  Explain that the debit card is NOT an endless supply of money & that it is not a credit card.  If you have children with FASD, when they become teens, cosign everything for sure.  Gives them practice w/out running into trouble.  Max wanted a computer and saved for it.  He earned it.  That is one thing I want my kids to know... that you must earn money.  It is not free.  Teaching the concept of money to kids with FASD is a learning experience for all involved.  My most difficult one has been Alex.  He so desperately wants a card like Max w/ his picture on it.  He will not get one till he is in his mid-teens for sure.  In addition, he doesn't understand how it works at all yet.  I'm working on that part though for sure.  He was distraught one day in Walmart b/c we wouldn't let him buy the gift card.  He didn't understand how all that worked.  Slowly, we're getting there.  Do things in bits and pieces when you are teaching money.  Hands on is best for sure.  My goal is for my kids to be able to go to a store, purchase something and know what money to hand over.  Wish me luck.  LOL.

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