Special Education


Teaching Students with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Understanding the Needs of the FAS/E Student

Behaviours which result from the effects of FAS/E can be challenging and often try the patience of the most dedicated and experienced educators. The response of children with FAS/E to corrective methods can be frustrating since these students are often inconsistent. In one circumstance they may respond positively to feedback. On the next occasion the same feedback may elicit a negative response. Contributing to this frustration is that the student with FAS/E often has difficulty with “cause and effect” reasoning and with adjusting to new or unfamiliar situations. This tendency often results in the teacher or caregiver misinterpreting the students behaviour and responding in a way that may create a more difficult situation. See Appendix 3 for a list of common misinterpretations of typical behaviours.

Focused observation of the student is important in order to gain an understanding of how the child experiences stress, relieves tension, copes with obstacles and reacts to change. It provides valuable information on how the child meets his or her needs, how hard the child is actually trying, how to facilitate success, and how to build a supportive environment that will lead to achievement. Additional structure can be provided through the teaching of rote social skills, or patterns of social behaviour. A multi-sensory, whole brain approach allows the student the greatest opportunity for understanding. Curriculum is often best taught in the context of the student’s daily life. A calm, nurturing, learning environment is vital.

Each student with FAS/E presents a different set of conditions for which a teacher can plan appropriate teaching strategies. Many of the strategies that are successful with other students with special needs are also successful with students with FAS/E. This document is designed to assist teachers in planning appropriate interventions by identifying many of the specific challenges these students face in the different subject and skill development areas. From mathematics to social skills, this document supplies suggestions that have been tried and found to be successful by teachers in B.C. classrooms.

By developing learning environments that respond to the unique challenges of a student with FAS/E, teachers can provide an important link in the chain of support needed to assist these children to succeed in the school and in the community.

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Appendix 3: Common Misrepresentations of Normal Responses in Students with FAS/E