Special Education


Teaching Students with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Social Skills

Suggestions for Classroom Teachers

  • Give the student direct and immediate feedback about unacceptable behaviour, how it is affecting others and how it is affecting the student. Label unacceptable behaviour specifically. "The way you are poking the student next to you, that is not acceptable. You need to stop doing that right now!"

  • ”Be aware that negative behaviour may be a symptom of unmet needs.
  • Provide direct instruction in social behaviour skills. (See box at left)

  • Allow the student to make mistakes. Help the student see their value in terms of what can be learned from these mistakes.

  • Include the student as often as possible in the process of developing solutions to problems.

  • Play turn-taking games. Pass an object around and when a student has the object it is that student’s turn.

  • Set limits and consistently follow them. Don’t debate or argue over classroom rules or infractions of those rules.

  • Encourage the student to use positive self-talk. "I can do this." "I am able to pay attention right now." "I can figure this out."

  • Develop a plan with the student, which can be followed when the student is feeling overwhelmed by people, sound, light, movement, things.

  • Develop with the student an entrance and exit routine for the day, or for each class.

  • Encourage and permit the student to lead in child/young adult play on a regular basis.

  • Encourage the child to “help” as a valued member of the classroom.

  • Encourage decision making by giving the student choices and allowing the student to carry through with the choices they make.

  • Use a variety of art forms as a means of communication regarding emotion, self-esteem, body image.


Teaching Social Skills

The process of teaching social behaviour skills involves three steps:

  • Modelling a behaviour.
  • Practicing the behaviour with guidance.
  • Reinforcement of the behaviour outside the training situation.

The teacher may begin by modelling a certain social behaviour with an individual student. The student could also be asked to demonstrate this skill to another student, and then practice with that student, with the teacher available for guidance.

After sufficient practice, the student is then asked to go and demonstrate the social skill outside the classroom, if not the school setting itself, in order to practice positive peer interactions, to improve perception of social cues and to display appropriate emotions

Ideally, students should be reinforced for spontaneously using the new skill. Key social behaviour skills are:

  • How to negotiate for what you want.
  • How to accept criticism.
  • How to show someone you like them.
  • How to get someone’s attention in a positive way.
  • How to handle frustration, disappointment, fearful situations.
  • How to ignore someone who is bothering you.