CanFASD: Supporting Students with FASD in Schools

Children sitting in desks smiling and looking out of the frame at the front of the classroom. They are ready to study with their pen on the paper in front of them.

Yesterday was the International Day of Education. Research has found that traditional approaches in classroom management can be unsuccessful in supporting the needs of students with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).  

FASD and Education 

Education is a human right. Everyone deserves inclusive and equitable quality education. However, students with FASD often struggle to succeed in school when the environment is not set up to support their needs.  

A successful school experience is important. Most diagnosis, support, and interventions come from within the school system. Students with FASD who have insufficient support in school are at higher risk of experiencing adverse outcomes in the future, like mental health issues, involvement in the justice system, and substance use challenges.  

Teaching Strategies for Students with FASD 

Individuals with FASD can experience a wide range of strengths and challenges that can impact their learning experience. Teachers can make small adjustments to their classroom approaches to better support students with FASD, like:  

  • Differentiated instruction; 
  • Visual and verbal prompts, cues, aids, and demonstrations,  
  • Repeat and slow down instruction;  
  • Hands on activities and concrete examples; 
  • Chunking information, breaking down tasks, and reducing lesson size.  

A Whole School Approach 

Support for students should extend outside the classroom. Students with FASD require a supportive school community, which includes teachers, school administrators, educational assistants, outside agencies, and caregivers. All members of the school community should be committed to continuing learning, awareness, and support.  

Continued Learning  

Teachers with a strong understanding of FASD are less likely to experience burnout and fatigue. But teachers and educational assistants, despite being eager to provide improved supports for their students, often lack in-depth knowledge, training, and resources to effectively support students with FASD.   

Our FASD for School Staff online learning course is a great starting point to improve knowledge and training for all school staff. In addition to going in-depth on teaching strategies and using a whole school approach, this learning program explores planning for transition periods, using dedicated math and literacy strategies, and encouraging collaboration with caregivers. Learn more about our online courses here!  

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