Rote memory deals with words as opposed to ideas and relationships of mental concepts (logical memory). In other words, it is the ability to remember things without giving any thought to their meaning.
It deals with symbols-figures-dates, which may be fixed in mind through the law of repetition without any effort of the intellect in the form of creative thinking.
Consequently, the use of rote memory mat result in parrot-like repetition without any under-standing of the thought values represented by the words, figures or symbols which are being used
Example:A child may use the word "love" as in "I love you" because they have learned it by rote, without grasping the underlying meaning of the concept.
** IMPLICATIONS FOR LEARNING **
A strong aptitude for rote memory is a typical cognitive tendency among children with ASD. However, because they rote learn the alphabet and numbers, their approach to reading words and computation skills are above average and they typically are fluent readers. Unsuspecting teachers often do not realize that they do not understand what they read and assume that because they know that 3 - 1 = 2, they will know that if 3 birds are on a tree and 1 flies away, there will be 2 left. Difficulty dealing with abstract concepts is their hallmark.
This capacity for strong rote memory is often accompanied by memory challenges in memory retrieval. A child might be able to name all the streets in his neighborhood yet be unable to answer to open ended questions such as: "where do you live?"
A common misperception of autism is the tendency to link autism to special "savant" capabilities. Savant capabilities are extraordinary skills in a specific area, often combined with lower than average abilities in other areas of development. These savant capabilities are seen in only around 10% of the children who receive a diagnosis on the autism spectrum.
Because many children with autism have an excellent rote and visual memory, teachers often think they understand something they have simply remembered. They use visual memory to compensate for their difficulty to understand. This leads to overdrilling because the child excels in the area of memorization.This is especially true of language and is heard when children recite scripts and speak in a robotic fashion.
** STRATEGIES **
Be vigilant, change the order of the problems or vocabulary words on the page, for instance, and make sure that the child understands and is not just memorizes when teaching.
The child may need guidance when selecting which bits of information to attend to and retain, but should also be encouraged to hone his or her skill of memorizing key facts, figures and other essential information. This kind of rote learning is valuable for educational activities such as phonics (learning the sounds of the alphabet and other letter strings), learning to count and memorizing multiplication and division facts.
Rote memory is related to strong visual perception, and many children with ASD learn numbers and letters before they can talk.Use their knowledge as a motivator in activities to strengthen other skills such as fine and gross motor skills (ie. using a number puzzle as part of an obstacle course, using dot markers to fill in the first letter of their name, etc.)
Find ways to help the child really grasp the concept of what they are doing, by helping the to actually "see" the problem, such as writing it down on paper, drawing it out, or physically demonstrating it.