From a young age, children are taught to recognise different monetary coins and paper notes however, it is important that the skills of money management are also taught to foster greater independence. Many young people with autism struggle with money skills as it is an abstract concept. As with any other skill being taught it is important to master the basics first:
1. Awareness of money
The child or young person needs to be able to recognise different monetary coins and notes.
2. Matching of money
Once a child or young person with autism can recognise the different coins they could then complete a matching exercise. This will begin with initially placing the correct image or toy coin beside or on top of the other. This can be developed further to associate a number with a coin as shown beside.
3. Understanding the value of money
If the child is able to complete basic addition these skills may be generalised for use with money.
Again, start off at a basic level of counting using one pence pieces and develop towards use of higher value coins.
4. Understanding the cost of items
Once the child or young person is aware of the value of different monetary coins and notes they can begin practicing the skill of purchasing items. This can initially be completed as a paper exercise. The child or young person with autism will however generalise the skills more quickly if they can practice with props.
If possible use actual items e.g. tins of beans, boxes of cereal and sweets etc as they will be able to recognise the items more easily in the grocery shop.
5. Next Pound Strategy
For those who may have difficulties understanding the value of money use the ‘next pound strategy’.
6. Practice in the real environment
If possible carry out practice in the real environment of a shop or set this as a homework task to reinforce the skills learnt within the safety of the classroom.
Begin by using a backward chaining approach so that the young person has the chance to pay for the items unless they have developed the skills required for selecting the required items from a list when shopping.
Tip to Remember: Ensure the child or young person knows how much the items will cost so they have time to sort out the correct money before getting to the till.
7. Point to Remember
As the individual with autism gets older it is important to teach the necessary skills of budgeting. This can initially be explored with pocket money and saving up to ensure they have sufficient money to purchase items they may desire.
As they get older and may seek to become more independent it is necessary that they can budget to make sure they have enough money to pay for basic needs such as food and clothing and stay on top of payments which may need to be made such as phone bills, electricity, heating. For more information about budgeting, bank accounts, saving and borrowing money click here.
The National Autistic Society also offer an online module which is designed to help autistic people manage their money and deal with bank accounts, cash machines, budgeting and debt.