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Design approach of mathematics learning activities in a digital environment for children with autism spectrum disorders


Learning environment on mathematics for autistic children is a prototype of a digital environment with dynamic adaptation features designed to offer activities towards the development of mathematical reasoning in children aged 6–12 years, diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social communication and social interaction as well as restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests or activities. This paper, with a primarily conceptual and analytical scope, discusses the mathematical difficulties that some children with ASD have, and presents strategies that can be used to overcome them. Based on a literature review and on the results of a preliminary study already conducted, we present results concerning the proposal of a set of learning activities for the prototype under development, specifically targeted to promote mathematical reasoning in students with ASD. Guidelines for future research are also discussed.

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Autism spectrum disorders


Information and communication technologies


Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders


National Council of Teachers of Mathematics


Center for Research & Development in Mathematics and Applications


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This work was supported in part by Portuguese funds through the CIDMA—Center for Research and Development in Mathematics and Applications, and the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (“FCT—Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia”), within Project UID/MAT/04106/2013. M. I. Santos also acknowledges the support of FCT through the Research Grant SFRH/BD/108154/2015.

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Correspondence to Maria Isabel Santos.

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Santos, M.I., Breda, A. & Almeida, A.M. Design approach of mathematics learning activities in a digital environment for children with autism spectrum disorders. Education Tech Research Dev 65, 1305–1323 (2017).

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