Students with FASD are all unique, however, there are some standard guidelines for creating a successful learning environment. Deb Evensen and Jan Lutke wrote, “8 Magic Keys: Strategies for Working with Students with FASD”. These keys or strategies are the basis for creating an opportunity for success in the classroom. Take some time to understand these important concepts by using the clickable box below.
Having a good relationship with the student prenatally exposed to alcohol cannot be stressed enough. Creating a safe space where the adults acknowledge, gain understanding and have empathy around the brain differences caused by prenatal alcohol is an often overlooked step. When there is a strong relationship, it reduces stress and sets a foundation that all other strategies can be built upon. Working in partnership with the family will aide in recognizing the unique personality of each student.
These broad ideas are the beginning of a successful program for a child with FASD. Please go to our education resource section for more specific strategies. One last thought - when success is achieved and a child is doing well, research shows that supports should remain in place. Often schools will scaffold back and look for growth. Supports need to be seen as a tool that assists with a physical disability, much like a
wheelchair or glasses. With FASD, supervision is the wheelchair. The goal in FASD is not independence but building a circle of support and interdependence to assist the person throughout the lifespan. It is vital when planning for the transition from elementary to secondary school as well as from high school to adulthood to keep the concept of interdependence front and center.
Strategies for Success
Keeping the adaptive function testing in mind, life skills generally need to be explicitly taught to the FASD population. As demands on older youth increase, adaptive functioning deficits usually become more pronounced. This can lead to safety issues. Early intervention with repetition is a proactive approach that should be considered both at school and home.
Typical difficulties include:
Understanding time: reading a clock, time management
Understanding money: value, budgeting, paying bills
Identifying risks and danger
Poor social skills
Poor understanding of the intent of others
Difficulty maintaining employment
Using the phone or technology
Definition: Accommodations are supports provided to help a student access the general education curriculum and validly demonstrate learning
Accommodations should be agreed upon and written into your student's IEP so that teachers and support staff can be consistent. We have created a list of common accommodations helpful for students affected by prenatal alcohol exposure. Not all accommodations will be a fit for all students, pick and choose what might work for yours as well as use this list to prompt your own ideas.