Monday, August 19, 2013

Math Whiz

Over the weekend my mom gave me an article from the newspaper entitled “Autistic kids with math abilities show different brain patterns.”  You can read it online here.  In addition, in the documentary A Mother’s Courage, there was a professor interviewed who made the comment that the vast majority of autistic individuals have ancestors who are engineers.  These revelations are very intriguing to me.  Among the discoveries I have made about Philip since we met Soma is that Philip loves math!  He has told both his friends Michael and Nelson that his favorite subject is math.  He even told me one day he wants to become a math teacher!  This shouldn’t surprise me too much.  After all, he comes from a family of math whizzes.  My husband Sam got a dual engineering degree at Johns Hopkins in biomedical engineering and electrical engineering.  On Sam’s mother’s side there are many engineers.  Sam’s grandfather and several grand uncles were engineers.  His mom’s brother is a nuclear engineer in Los Alamos.  Of the kids of that uncle (Sam’s cousins), one is an environmental engineer and the other a math teacher.  On Sam’s father’s side, he has an uncle who is a civil engineer.  Sam’s father might have been an engineer, but he became a mechanic first and then worked his way up in sales and then administration in Ford Motor Company.  My side is not as mathematically oriented, but my parents are both doctors, so certainly no dummies!  My 4 kids are all math oriented.  Ana and Carlos were both placed on the gifted track in Miami, mostly based on their superiority in math.  My oldest daughter Ana is now looking at colleges with engineering programs.  

Tonight was fun working on math with Philip and Sam.  We like using an iPad app called Brain Pop to teach Philip math concepts.  In fact Brain Pop is great at teaching all subjects.  There are hundreds of 2-6 minute video lessons on many subjects in science, math, reading, social studies, arts, and technology.  Then there are 10 question quizzes on each lesson.  I have been teaching Philip about fractions now that he is proficient in the basic operations in math.  Today we got into multiplying and dividing fractions.  I actually needed some help in figuring out the answers to some of the quiz questions so Sam stepped in to teach.  It was great.  Philip was really into what Sam was teaching.  He wasn’t antsy or fidgety, but really focused.  Philip was blowing us away with how fast he was picking everything up.  He was reducing fractions, changing mixed numbers to improper fractions, doing inverse operations, and solving multi-step problems.  A lot of it he was doing in his head too.  When we finished the night, Philip had gotten 90% on his quiz (the one he got wrong, Sam got wrong too!).  Sam actually got teary eyed.  I think it was one of the first times he really bonded with Philip over something they both love.   

I am truly excited for Philip.  I have always wanted to know what he liked or what he’d be good at so we can help him channel his energy in a certain path.  I think we may now have found it in math!

One of Philip's favorite activities when he was younger was lining up his flashcards in a beautiful fanshape pattern.

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