Supporting Self-Regulation: Implementing FASD-Informed Strategies in the Classroom

When working with students who have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), it is essential to adopt an approach that considers their unique brain-based needs. By implementing strategies that address self-regulation and other challenges associated with FASD, educators can create a supportive learning environment. Here are some broad suggestions to support students with FASD:

Provide Structure

Establish clear and consistent routines to help students feel secure and understand expectations. Be prompt and consistent. Use visual or written supports, such as detailed schedules or task breakdowns, to aid organization and understanding.

Consider Physical Environments

Allow movement opportunities for students who need extra stimulation, such as reading in a rocking chair. Offer sensory stimulation options like attaching sandpaper or a stress ball to the desk to provide sensory input. Create a quiet area where students can retreat when distractions become overwhelming.

Support Social and Environmental Functioning

Respect personal boundaries and ask for consent before initiating physical contact. Explain social rules in concrete terms, using clear and direct language. Establish a signal or cue that students can use to indicate when they are feeling overwhelmed or frustrated. Learn about each student’s triggers and proactively recognize signs of escalation. Provide healthy outlets for self-expression, such as writing, art, music, or physical activity. Allow students a cooling-down period in a calming space before discussing challenging situations. Use a calm tone of voice and employ visual cues to aid understanding.

Provide Guidance and Support

Seek feedback from students about their learning experiences, asking for suggestions on what works and what doesn’t. Teach students to use self-talk to stay focused and control impulsive behavior, modeling this behavior as well. Encourage metacognitive strategies, prompting students to reflect on their thinking processes. Help students develop problem-solving skills by guiding them through questions that analyze the situation and explore alternative solutions. Support communication by writing down important information or providing visual aids. Utilize social stories or cartoon captions to convey concepts effectively. Anticipate and prevent problems through close supervision or by partnering students with peers through buddy systems or peer tutoring.

Adjust Teaching Strategies

Teach concepts across various contexts to facilitate generalization and comprehension. Assess understanding by having students both explain and demonstrate their learning. Make the material personally relevant to students by connecting it to their interests or experiences. Implement strategies for active learning, such as teaching concepts to others or generating questions based on reading material.

By incorporating these FASD-informed strategies, educators can create an inclusive and supportive classroom environment that meets the needs of students with FASD. It promotes their learning, self-regulation, and overall well-being, allowing them to thrive academically and socially.

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