The CAN'Ts Add Up Quickly

When thinking about how to provide differentiated instruction on finance to individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities, the CAN’Ts can add up quickly.

The individual CAN’T read or speak.

The individual CAN’T count change or money.

The individual CAN’T understand the value of money.

The individual CAN’T access online bank accounts.

The list goes on and on, but it is only by looking at the CANs that we can find a way to teach.  My son falls into all of the above categories.  This does not mean he CAN’T learn about finance.  On a weekly basis, he makes a grocery list by circling items that he likes in the grocery ads that are delivered to his house.  He goes shopping for these items which requires understanding the social skills of pushing a cart, putting in items he wants and needs, knowing he can’t have everything and knowing he has to pay before he can eat anything.  He has learned to use the self-checkout option at the grocery store because he prefers to be in control of the checkout process.  He also understands he has to pay with his SNAP card on the machine before he can get the receipt and he can’t leave the store without the receipt. He knows parking lot etiquette and puts his cart away when he is finished unloading the food into the car.  His direct service professional can point out to him the balance on the receipt of his SNAP card, so he is learning to track how much is in his SNAP account.  Simple steps that have become automatic for us can be great learning experiences so they can become automatic to the individuals we serve as well.  These concepts can then be generalized into shopping for clothing and other items.  The pandemic gave us the opportunity to explore more online shopping options as the demand for this type of shopping experience grew.  The list of CAN’Ts may be endless, but so is the list of CANs.  Everyone can learn more about financial pursuits.