FASD Resources Available
For Teachers in Elementary and Middle
By Kristin Blank
Children with fetal alcohol spectrum
disorders (FASD) may encounter a lifetime
of challenges. Prenatal alcohol exposure
can cause physical, mental, behavioral,
and learning disabilities (see SAMHSA
News, July/August 2007). According
to SAMHSA’s FASD Center for
Excellence, FASD usually is not diagnosed
until children enter school.
In order to help these children succeed,
the Center developed a booklet for
teachers called Reach
to Teach: Educating Elementary and
Middle School Students with Fetal
Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
The 60-page booklet contains valuable
information to promote understanding
of FASD and its symptoms, as well
as tools and strategies to enhance
the child’s learning and communication
between teachers and parents.
FASD in the Classroom
Learning disabilities that can result
from FASD include problems processing
information, difficulty with planning
and organizing, and short-term memory
disorders. Children with FASD often
are contextual learners, meaning they
can’t easily transfer information
learned in one context to another.
In children with FASD, inconsistent
performance is common. For example,
material learned one day may be forgotten
the next day, then remembered 2 or
3 days later—a frustrating pattern
for students who are trying hard but
not achieving consistent success.
Teachers may think the child is purposefully
misbehaving or is not paying attention.
Educators can help children diagnosed
with FASD by using specific classroom
strategies to assist learning. They
Structure a caring and consistent
environment, because students with
FASD learn better when guidelines
for learning and behavior are clear
and improve understanding
of FASD. Think “This child can’t,” rather
than “This child won’t,” and
focus on strengths rather than struggles.
to translate misbehavior, since
what looks like inattention may
be indicate confusion.
style to be more concrete and
the physical space in the classroom,
such as keeping walls and bulletin
boards uncluttered and providing
a quiet corner to allow students
Engage the whole school
community by seeking out
school-wide trainings on FASD, inviting
parents to share their experiences,
and encouraging teachers to share
tips about what works in their classrooms.
The booklet also provides removable
forms on which parents and teachers
can write the child’s daily
schedules to improve continuity between
school and home. Another form allows
parents and teachers to list the child’s
particular strengths, challenges,
and successful strategies as he or
she moves from grade to grade.
Reach to Teach is available
free of charge from SAMHSA’s
Health Information Network at 1-877-SAMHSA-7
(1-877-726-4727) or 1-800-487-4889
(TDD). Ask for inventory number SMA07-4222.
For a free PDF copy, visit http://fascenter.samhsa.gov/documents/
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