Hi, I’m Craig Kendall, the author of The Asperger’s Syndrome Survival Guide. In today’s issue we will discuss…
Asperger’s Syndrome in Children – Teaching about Money
Asperger’s syndrome in children can present several unique challenges in planning for the future. One such area is in teaching kids about money. Can you remember when money was still abstract to you? Something the adults had and you didn’t, and maybe you would beg for some money for a candy bar now and then?
Most kids learn how to use money and make purchases at a relatively young age. But with Asperger’s syndrome in children, they may have more difficulty in grasping the concept. You may have to teach it several times, and demonstrate it several times before it sinks in.
Teaching your Asperger’s syndrome child about money
Money is an abstract symbol. We assign value to it randomly. To teach your Asperger’s syndrome child a little about what money represents, try using a token system in your house. Give your child a certain number of tokens in exchange for doing his homework or helping with chores around the house; and at the end of the week, he can redeem them for different prizes or toys which you have set a price value for. This will teach the concept of exchanging tokens for goods, something that can sometimes be hard with Asperger’s syndrome in children.
Four Steps to teach the concept of money
1. Show him the actual currency
Show your Asperger’s syndrome child the different bills in the currency system your country uses, as well as the coin. Tell him what they mean, and have him repeat it or fill out worksheets to the effect if he has trouble grasping it.
2. Explain how every item has a different price.
Use common items around the house and their prices to teach the relative value of things. For example, a carton of orange juice is around $3. A box of cereal is around $3. The video game he likes to play is perhaps $15. This will start to give him a base reference to refer to.
3. Have him buy something.
Take your child to the store with you and have him choose one thing (that is on your list) and pay for it with money you give him. Teach him how to find the price and then the correct bill for it. Explain how many items cost less than the bill we have for them, so we get change in return. If he is able, have him try to calculate the change, or at least the approximate amount rounded.
4. Check change for accuracy
When the item is rung up, have him notice how much change he is getting back and ask him if he thinks that’s the right amount. Have him look at the receipt and ask him if the amount the item cost and the amount of change he gets back looks right.
This will teach him not only the basic mechanism of using money to buy something, but to be aware of checking for accuracy so he does not get ripped off by anyone further on down the line. When you have Asperger’s syndrome in children, the chances of someone trying to potentially take advantage of your child unfortunately increases.
When discussing Asperger’s syndrome in children, these kids don’t often have a realistic idea of what things cost. You might ask them how much a house cost and they’ll say “a hundred billion dollars” or maybe “a hundred dollars.” The new game they’re coveting? They have no idea how much that costs. Everything is relative.
Make a list of common things you have around the house, including pictures, and how much each thing costs, on average, to try to give your child an idea of relativity. Teach which things would be considered “expensive” and which things are “affordable” based on whatever financial beliefs or background you have.
As kids get older, you will want to teach them how to budget. Many kids and adults as well will spend money like there’s an endless supply of it. This is where an allowance can be a great teaching tool.
Give them so much a week in exchange for chores around the house or just because, and have discussions with them about how far that money will go in order to buy the things they want. For example, “if you buy these baseball cards now, will you have enough money for the ice cream you want later?” and so on. Running out of money can be an effective motivation to start thinking about what one spends, although some kids get this concept later than others.
Being able to manage one’s money independently is one of the most important life skills a person can have for independent living. Having Asperger’s syndrome in children means that you might have to practice things more than you would with other children — but practicing these skills early and often will set your child up for success in the future.
As your child with Asperger’s syndrome grows into adulthood, he or she will need to find a job. This article on Essential Employment Advice for Asperger’s Adults can help.