I have been working with an autistic student for MONTHS on addition with lots of abacus work. I encourage him, telling him that SOMEDAY all of this will make sense because he will have the abacus in his brain and he won’t even need to touch it anymore.
Weeell… this morning we were playing a game with his abacus close by. I soon noticed that he was giving me answers (sums) very quickly without the physical use of his abacus. I became so excited and started celebrating (in truth, screaming), telling him I was so proud of him for recognizing quantities (picturing his beads in his mind; 5 + 2 to be exact) so quickly. I asked him to tell me how he was doing this. He exclaimed “I finally have the abacus smashed up in my brain! See, look, this is how I did it!” He then proceeded to place the abacus on top of his head and push down!