It is important to reinforce a strong no alcohol message for all students. You may want to integrate simple prevention lessons into health, biology or sociology curriculum.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is an umbrella term used to describe a broad range of effects associated with alcohol use during pregnancy. The spectrum can include physical effects as well as effects on the brain that may result in problems with learning, emotions and behavior.
Pregnant women who drink do not intentionally harm their unborn babies. In many cases, they simply do not know about FASD or fully understand the risks. They may have been given incorrect information about alcohol and pregnancy from family, friends or health care providers. In some cases, women have a serious problem with alcohol and they need professional help to stop drinking. Others do not even realize they are pregnant when the drinking occurs. It’s important not to place blame or increase stigma which could result in the pregnant woman not receiving healthcare for herself or the unborn child.
FASD does not just occur in children of alcoholics. There is no safe amount and no safe time to drink during pregnancy.
It is likely that there are children with FASD in every school system. While it is difficult to give a precise estimate, a school system with 10,000 students might have 80 to 100 students with learning problems related to FASD. Some of these children will have problems severe enough that they are best served in self-contained special education classes. The majority, however, will be enrolled in regular classrooms. Within this majority, some students with FASD will have resource room support, but many others will be unidentified and may be struggling to learn. (FASD Center for Learning Excellence, Reach to Teac, DHHS 2007)
Teachers and other staff can make a difference by reaching out to the child and using specific classroom strategies to assist learning. These strategies include structuring a caring and consistent environment, shifting attitudes and improving understanding, learning to translate misbehavior, changing classroom teaching style, restructuring the physical space in the classroom and engaging the whole school community.
Parents and teachers should not have to start from scratch each year. School Administrators can ensure continuity for learning by encouraging parents to provide the new teacher with a summary of the student’s needs and best approaches that have been found most helpful. Make sure that this information is included in the child’s school records. Focus on strengths and what WILL WORK as opposed to deficits.