Students in the school system with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) can present a myriad of challenges for the classroom teacher. It is important for the teacher to be aware of the student’s diagnosis so that he or she can successfully work with the student.
Special Education Services
Students with FAS are eligible for special education services provided they have the diagnosis to support the need for services. These services should include:
- Neuropsychological assessments
- Early Intervention (age 0 to 3)
- Special education services
- Parent and caregiver education
- Physical, speech and language, and occupational therapies
- Social skills training
There are many interventions teachers can use to help students gain the ability to be successful in school.
Students with FAS often tend to be caring and creative, determined and eager to please, and responsive to structure, close supervision and concrete information. Students with FAS may have trouble expressing themselves, so it can be very helpful for educators to be aware of the student’s body language - for example, knowing the warning signs for frustration, sadness, anger and other emotions. Students may also have problems with concepts such as decision making, time management, impulsiveness and distinguishing between private and public behaviors. They may have memory problems and be unable to remember information from one day to the next.
Below are some possible interventions that have been shown to help students with FAS achieve success in the classroom:
- Place the child near the front of the room to help focus.
- Allow short breaks when necessary.
- Create borders such as armrests, footrests and beanbag chairs. This helps the child feel calmer and more secure.
- Give enough time for the child to prepare to exit classroom at recess and the end of the day.
- Have the child perform one task at a time.
- As assignments become longer and more difficult, give deadlines for sections and check on progress.
- Provide the child with a copy of the teacher’s notes.
- Behavior problems are more apparent in grade school. Diffuse situations calmly, move into a new activity.
- Children may be unable to generalize information learned from one day to the next. Make eye contact, repeat things, and always use short instructions.
- Be prepared for inconsistent performance, frustration with transitions and the need for individual attention.
- Use visuals, concrete examples and hands-on learning.
- Encourage success; reward positive behavior with praise or incentives.
- Middle school students should shift academic learning to daily living and vocational skills.
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