Educating the Elementary Student with FASD. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Susan J. Watcher SED 506 March 21, 2012. Table of Contents. Introduction to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders The Definition of FASD The Cause of FASD The Benefits of Early Identification FASD in the classroom
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Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
Susan J. Watcher
March 21, 2012
The term fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a medical diagnosis characterized by a combination of distinct facial features, small or slow physical growth, and brain damage that can result in learning difficulties and/or behavioral disorders
The other conditions under the FASD umbrella are cases in which children do not have the distinct facial features associated with FAS, but have significant learning and behavioral problems due to prenatal alcohol exposure. These children are typically identified as having alcohol-related neurodevelopment disorder (ARND), or fetal alcohol effects (FAE).
FASD can only result from a woman’s use of alcohol during pregnancy. It does not result from previous use of alcohol, living in an alcoholic home, or from paternal alcohol use. FASD cannot be inherited.
Seline is six years old. She weighs 34 pounds and is 38 inches tall. That puts Seline in the 3rd percentile for weight and height as noted on the (Growth Chart Calculator, 2011). She is dressed very nicely in pink jeans and a matching shirt. Her hair is tied back into a ponytail or bun. She is well groomed and clean except for the smell of a wet diaper. Seline seems to be very happy. She has a big smile and is very affectionate. She hugs everyone as she enters the room. Seline has a tube in her stomach for the delivery of medications.
Seline scored a 48% on the May Math Benchmarks. The county would like each child to score an 80% or better. 91% of Kindergarten students at Runnymede earned an 80% or better (Benchmark Test). Seline is repeating Kindergarten this year.
In the area of communication, Seline is able to formulate grammatically correct sentences. She uses appropriate language, verb tenses and grammar when speaking.
Seline struggles with her focus and attention to tasks throughout the school environment. She does not apply her skills to continue learning. (FASD: What School Systems Should Know About Affected Students, 2001-2004).
Seline participates in weekly OT sessions. She needs assistance to assume a functional grasp on a marker or pencil. She has difficulty reproducing pre-writing shapes such as a square. Seline can trace shapes or letters. She can cut with scissors around shapes with help and straight lines independently.
Seline is unable to hop on one foot or balance on the low balance beam. She has no upper body strength and could not support herself on climbing apparatus.
As a result of these disabilities, inconsistent performance is common. For example, material that is learned one day is forgotten the next day, then is remembered two or three days later. This pattern is frustrating for students, who are trying hard, but without consistent success. Inconsistent performance also is frustrating for teachers, who may think the child needs to try harder, is willfully misbehaving, or is simply not paying attention
Simply recognizing that a child is trying hard, but is nevertheless struggling, goes a long way toward guiding learning.
Being able to repeat instructions back to you, but still not being able to do what is asked may mean, “I know what you said, but I don’t know the steps for how to put that into action.” Being able to repeat what was said and being able to do it are very different tasks for the brain. Do not assume defiance. Instead, make sure your instructions are concrete and literal. Break down the work into specific steps and discuss how to approach each step.
✿Becoming upset or unfocused when a schedule change occurs may mean, “My usual understanding of how and when things are going to happen has changed, and it upsets my whole being. It will take some time for me to adjust.”Give as much advance warning about schedule changes as possible and preview the transition with a brief, concrete description. Have a plan in place for when changes do occur—10 minutes in a calm corner, a buddy to review the change, or the patience to wait for the student to readjust.
✿For maximum attention, stand in front of a blank space when speaking (for example, a clean black or whiteboard, a movie screen, or a hanging sheet).
Rosett, H., & Weiner, L. (1984).Alcohol and the fetus: A clinical perspective.NewYork:Oxford University Press.
Streissguth, A.P., Bookstein, F.L., Bart, H.M., Sampson, P.D., O’Malley, K., & Young, J.K. (2004). Risk factors for adverse life outcomes in fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effects. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 25 (4), 228-238.
Benchmark Test. (n.d.). Maryland, Carroll County: Carroll County Board of Education.
Gross Motor Skills Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health . (2011). Retrieved June 7, 2011, from
Enotes : http//www.enotes.com/nursing-encyclopedia/gross motor skills
Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: www.nofas.org