Significant numbers

Since deciding to write a blog (and naming it ilove10) I realised the name might need some explaining.  Of course there is the “info” section, but it doesn’t really tell the full story.

I recently read a biography of Simon P. Norton which is about a very gifted mathematician who is, shall we say, less gifted in other life skills.  Reading the description of his childhood reminds me a little of Nathan. In particular, how Simon called his mother “45″.  It’s prompted me to get round to this topic.

One of Nathan’s quirks is his fascination with numbers.  He has been interested in counting from being very young, and he seems to have a natural talent for spotting patterns, stacking and sorting things, and more recently being able to read most 3 digit numbers – something that is beyond his years.  I’m not sure how many 2 year olds can identify a rhombus, but he was one of them.  He giggled so much that he nearly stopped breathing the day he realised that turning 6 upside down makes 9 and vice versa.

Like Simon, Nathan uses numbers to label things.  So, people are referred to by the door number of their house, and cars by the digits in their number plates.  Jigsaws are primarily referred to by their number of pieces, and only by their content if several jigsaws have the same number of pieces.  Busses are, of course, referred to by their number.  Nathan finds it hilarious if the same number crops up in a different context – for example the 115 bus runs near our house, but on the way to school we pass a house with a prominent 115 on the door. Every time we pass it the house is worthy of comment… “115 house, bit like 115 bus”.  Nathan also likes to spot the numbers of the carriages on the DLR trains, which is particularly exciting because there are 3 carriages on most trains so 3 numbers to spot.

I have previously blogged here about how he self-sooths at bed time by counting, and how he can be persuaded to eat food he does not like by counting the spoonfuls – although these days we are told “lets do 60″ rather than the rather old hat 10 spoonfuls.

I’m not sure whether this is some Aspergic trait showing early on (although undiagnosed, I was also a very “adult” child who liked to line things up rather than play with them) or whether this is just a precocious talent for maths along the lines of Simon (I do have a maths degree so there is some genetic precedent, although not at that level!).  I’m not even sure which I hope for – studying maths at a prestigious university taught me that most people who are good at the Queen of Sciences have paid for it in “life points” from some other category such as the ability to socialise, to eat anything but 3 favourite meals, or even to be happy in life. So, whilst I would be incredibly proud if Nathan is the next Fields Medal hopeful, I would prefer he is content in life, has the ability to support himself, and a good set of friends around him. Perhaps he might manage both? (pushy parent, moi?)

So far, our “significant numbers” include…

0 – aah zero, a funny concept.  The joy of zero was discovered about 6 months after the joy of counting to 10. Days spent walking up and down stairs (aka being frogmarched by a toddler), counting on the way up and stepping back down to zero on the ground level.  Zero, you are both hilarious and good exercise.  Also known as “zero-bye-bye-Numtums”.

1 – “number 1 leeds” is where Grandma and Grandad live

9 – our friend Elliot’s house

10 – very significant of course – the first number that Nathan expressed an emotion about.  It is our door number, the day (and nearly the hour) of Samuel’s birth.  Because we have 10 fingers (and thumbs) it is often the last number in nursery rhymes about counting, and it is the lift level for “show me show me” on Cbeebies. It’s also the largest number in “one ted fell out of bed”, a favourite story.

11 – our friend Lucy’s house

14 – Auntie Dani’s house

15 – bob the builder jigsaw and a local bus number

22 – Auntie Ann’s house

25 – jungle puzzle jigsaw

35 – “35 London” is Grandma and Grandad’s other house as well as “35 fireman sam and big engine” and “35 fireman sam and dogs” which are jigsaws.

50 – finding nemo jigsaw

54 – our car

60 – favourite number of spoonfuls of horrible dinner to eat.  Why? noone knows!  He would rather eat 60 spoons of disliked goo than 10.

87 – other Grandma and Grandad’s house

115 – local bus number

135 – local bus number

277 – local bus number

493 – bus number near Grandma and Grandad’s house

695 – a favourite number on car number plates we see on the way to school

905 – another numberplate favourite

1000 – this is becoming funny as Nathan explores the naming conventions, it is either pronounced “ten hundred” or “a thousand” depending on mood.

26, 24, 11, 10 – the door numbers on the lead up to our house, sometimes discussed when Nathan is thinking about going home (“don’t live at 26, don’t live at 24, don’t live at 11, we live at 10″ is sometimes a request to go home!)

So, to all you maths geniuses and Aspergers adults out there… did any of you exhibit this sort of strange “geeky” behaviour in early childhood?  What do you think about our special numbers?  Am I raising Simon Norton or Sheldon Cooper?


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About ilove10

Here I spew forth my musings on being a mum to 2 boys, on faith, life, premature birth, child development and buying a fixer-upper Grade II listed house. Welcome! My older son has an expressive communication delay, we use Makaton signing as well as speech. He is very interested in numbers and letters. Recently we were practising expressing emotions by signing “I love…” and he volunteered “I love 10″, hence the name of this blog.
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6 Responses to Significant numbers

  1. I notice that he doesn’t refer to people by numbers though. You are mummy, I am Auntie Elner, and grandma and grandad are “granma, grandad”.

  2. And what exactly is wrong with Sheldon?
    I have always maintained that numbering people by when you meet them would be far more useful than names, and whilst possibly not entirely balanced I am relatively happy, have some friends, and generally manage to support myself.
    I wonder whether he tends towards thinking in words rather than in pictures?

  3. ilove10 says:

    Sheldon is excellent, its everyone else that has the problem! :-)

  4. That’s exactly what I said to my therapist.

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