Experiences in Education

CanFASD is taking a look at FASD and our education system through the lens of three different people: the student, the teacher, and the caregiver.

Student

Individuals with FASD have many strengths, however, these strengths are not often captured in academic research. Anecdotal evidence suggests that individuals with FASD are very friendly, generous, helpful, outgoing, hard-working, determined, non-judgemental, and forgiving. They are often good storytellers, and can be artistic, musical, and athletic. Individuals with FASD may be strong hands-on learners and can excel in non-traditional learning environments.

Prenatal alcohol exposure can affect brain development. As a result, individuals with FASD are often challenged with executive functioning, abstract thinking, emotional regulation, attention, learning and memory, and sensory processing. Academic subjects such as math and languages can be difficult. Individuals with FASD often also experience adverse secondary outcomes as a result of their disability, including suspension, expulsion, or dropping out of school. However, targeted intervention strategies and educational supports are effective at improving outcomes for students with FASD.

Having access to adequate supports and resources in an education system can help individuals with FASD identify their strengths and areas of interest, and work towards achieving success in those areas. Stories of success can be found in blog posts, news articles, and research papers.

These stories are peppered with repeating themes. In order to achieve success, individuals with FASD need parental and educational support, access to effective resources, programs, and services, and FASD-informed school staff.

Teacher

The experiences of students with FASD can significantly improve with the implementation of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). This document is a plan specific to each student outlining how educational supports can be used to accommodate the needs of a particular student.

Educators are expected to develop and implement IEPs based on recommendations they are given from psychologists who assess the students. However, teachers have reported frustration with this process. (Read more…)