Multi-Sensory Math Teaching Tools in Special Education

Mother using digital tablet to help daughter with arithmetic
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Multi-sensory math teaching tools such as Touch Math benefit special needs students for a variety of reasons. Touch Math has been used in schools for many years and is quite successful for students who have difficulty learning math through language-based methods and memorization of facts.

Once students become familiar with the teaching method, they can apply Touch Math to many important life skills, such as balancing checkbooks, calculating costs at the grocery store, counting money and making a change. The program can be used for all ages, and the publishers offer a program designed for adult learners as well.

How Touch Math Works

Overall, Touch Math is an effective method for teaching basic mathematical operations to students who struggle with math or have specific learning disabilities in math such as dyscalculia. Touch Math's colorful and engaging materials and the overall ease of the program will appeal to math-phobic children as well as teachers and parents who might otherwise be intimidated by traditional math teaching materials.

  • Teaches math operations

  • Discourages calculator use

  • Employs tactile methods

  • Makes math concepts visible

  • Free resources for parents

  • Expensive for home use

  • Requires teacher support

  • Best for teachers who embrace alternative methods


This multi-sensory math tool has a number of benefits for students with learning disabilities and typical learners alike. Touch Math effectively teaches students how to perform math operations and frees students from using a calculator for basic math skills. Its tactile methods appeal to diverse learners with hands-on learning styles. It also makes math concepts "visible" to students who have difficulty with the language of math and the manufacturer may provide consumers with free materials from the program to try online before they take the plunge and buy it.


While Touch Math offers a wide range of benefits to all kinds of learners, the program isn't cheap. The collections on the site run anywhere from more than $100 to thousands of dollars. This makes it costly for home use. However, Touch Math does offer programs for homeschoolers.

Regular classroom teachers who use the program must be open to alternative methods. In addition, use in regular classrooms will initially require additional teacher support. So, teachers without classroom aides may have difficulty going it alone with Touch Math.

Touch Math Highlights

Touch Math has a number of features. They're outlined below to give would-be users a better idea of what to expect from purchasing the program.

  • With Touch Math, students with learning disabilities learn to touchpoints on numbers to perform operations.
  • Students memorize the points and patterns and use them to perform addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
  • Visual models are gradually faded as students internalize the method. Eventually, they no longer need visual supports.
  • It is effective for students with learning disabilities as well as students with autism and other language processing disorders.
  • The program offers workbooks and sheets, videos and hands-on manipulatives such as foam numbers with raised touchpoints.
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