Teachers play a critical role in facilitating best practice that leads to positive learning and life outcomes for students with FASD. International studies suggest there could well be at least one student with FASD in every classroom Australia wide. These children do not respond to traditional instructions and classroom management techniques and it is imperative that all teachers understand and know how to meet their complex needs.
Many students with FASD will have normal or sometimes even high intelligence but they still struggle with learning and relating to the world around them and the majority will need a circle of external support for their lifetime.
Challenges can be decreased if educators are able to recognise the common behaviours and features of a child with FASD. These may include the following, but can vary from child to child:
- learning difficulties (don’t seem to be learning as well as other children)
- impulsiveness (acting without thinking)
- difficulty relating actions to consequences (don’t learn from mistakes)
- social relationships (have trouble making and keeping friends)
- attention/hyperactivity (may have been diagnosed with ADHD)
- memory (know something one day but seem to forget it the next); and
- developmental delays (may not reach developmental milestones on time).
The maturity and development of children with FASD can be uneven and confusing. Strong abilities in certain areas, such as expressive language (the way they talk), can hide impairment in other areas. For example, a ten year old child with FASD may only have the developmental age of a five year old. Children with FASD are more successful learners when teachers use a strength-based approach.
Supporting School-age Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder – a guide for teacher, parents and carers
The SECCA App – This digital app supports the development of knowledge and skills in navigating sexuality & relationships across the lifespan. Each lesson plan is linked to the Australian National Curriculum and the ABLE WA curriculum.
Education of Students with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. 2007 Churchill Scholarship Report authored by Kym Crawford
FASD: From Isolation to Inclusion in Australian Schools 2016 Thesis authored by Dee Basaraba
What Teachers Can Do – List of resources from FASD Hub Australia
Trying Differently Rather Than Harder (US) The neurobehavioral approach for working effectively with children, adolescents and adults with FASD. **highly recommended reading
‘FASD & Learning’ – This new resource from NZ provides strategies to support teachers provide an inclusive classroom and meet the learning needs of students with FASD. It is a suitable guide for all teachers anywhere!
Hey Teacher (NZ)
Educating Children and Young People with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Constructing personalized pathways to learning (UK). Blackburn C, Carpenter B, Egerton J. 2012
You never know who has a disability you can’t see This is a great 5-minute video for teachers
The Eight Magic Keys of Success – short video series from WRAP Schools
What Educators Need to Know about FASD – Working Together to Educate Children in Manitoba with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Six things educators and school staff should know about FASD