September usually means one thing: it’s time to go back to school! This transition can be particularly stressful for students with FASD, as well as their caregivers and teachers.
Throughout the month of September, we will be posting a Back to School Series, highlighting different issues related to education and FASD.
To kick off the series, we have summarized a recent issue paper below on education and FASD.
Throughout the rest of the month, we will release guest posts from professionals and caregivers with lived experiences, as well as information about alcohol use among post-secondary students.
Back to School #1: Educational Supports for Students with FASD
Students with FASD can benefit in both their school and personal lives with the help of educational supports and individualized education plans (IEPs). Despite educational supports being available in most school systems, current strategies are often outdated, not FASD-specific, and lack the accessible information teachers need to prepare ideal IEPs for students with FASD.
Some of the challenges for students with FASD, parents, and educators include:
- Ineffective functional assessments and psychoeducational reports
- It can be extremely difficult for teachers to find value with the information provided in current functional assessments
- Teachers claim functional assessments lack comprehensiveness, and focus mostly on the FASD diagnosis, only highlighting weaknesses of the student
- Assessment reports are often long and filled with technical jargon
- Poor teacher education and training on FASD
- Many teachers are not fully educated on, or do not have the proper resources on, FASD
- Disjointed communication between all parties
- There can be disconnect in the collaboration between all parties involved with intervention for students with FASD
- When collaboration is sparse, individual program planning becomes disjointed, and the complex needs of the student with FASD are difficult to meet
Evidence shows that positive learning outcomes are more likely with revised strategies and improved educational supports for students with FASD through all levels of diagnosis, assessment, and intervention planning.
- Early diagnosis is essential to understand and meet the complex needs of individuals with FASD
- Improving functional assessments is required to optimize IEPs, and psychologists should gather a more comprehensive overview of the student, individualizing the assessment, highlighting the strengths and skills of the student, and noting how to use and apply these strengths in the classroom
- Teachers and other educational support staff should be provided with the proper resources, education, and up-to-date training on FASD to ensure that they are equipped to make sound decisions on the best learning styles and student programming
- Parents and caregivers should have access to FASD educational resources to enhance their knowledge and understanding of the disorder, and to better serve the unique needs of their child at home
- Stronger communication and collaboration between psychologists, teachers, educational aides, parents, and the community will lead to more effective IEPs, and better sharing of expertise among all parties
For more information on educational supports for students with FASD and current teaching strategies, please refer to the following resources:
- Engaging All Learners! Supporting Students with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
- What Educators Need to Know about FASD
- Understanding FASD: A Comprehensive Guide for Pre-K-8 Educators
- Teaching Students with FASD: Building Strengths, Creating Hope
- Making a Difference: Working with Students who have FASDs
- POPFASD, the Provincial Outreach Program for FASD
- Education Essentials for Students with FASD: Setting Them Up For Success
Click here to read the full issue paper devoted to this topic.
Visit the CanFASD website for more information and resources related to education and FASD.