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FASD basics for teachers

Each child with FASD needs
  1. Unconditional care and support and the ability of the teacher to step back before judging (can’t vs won’t thinking).
  2. Realistic expectations and challenges a child can meet and grow from.
  3. Plan for success. Learn to predict the child’s reactions, organize the setting for success, work together and enjoy the rewards.
  4. Redirection and reduction of behavior when frustrated.
  5. Clear, concrete consequences that are understandable to the child.
  6. Adequate supervision, mentoring and coaching to lead a healthy life.

Get to know the child

  1. What are the child’s keen interests or talents?
  2. Does the child know something other children don’t? Let the child teach others.
  3. Does the irritating behavior demonstrate creative problem solving?
    • Salesmanship?
    • Leadership?
  4. Try to provide ten positive comments to every negative comment you give the child.
  5. If the child is having trouble learning or understanding something, take a deep silent breath and break the task into small segments.
    • Fold worksheet in half and have child do half or quarter of the sheet.
    • Give on part of the problem to work on.
  6. When they conquer the first step then go on to the next.
  7. Build on strengths.
  8. Don’t break down child with criticism.

Discover your students desires

  • Lighting
    • Low or bright light.
    • Window light.
    • No light.
    • Fluorescence or Incandescent.
  • Temperature
    • Open window.
    • Air conditioning.
    • Warm heat.
    • Cool room.
    • Warm room.
  • Seating
    • Near teacher.
    • Isolated.
    • Near door or window.
    • Study corral.
  • Work
    • Alone or with a friend

Reframe the way you think about the child.

  • Explosive can be dramatic, high-powered, stimulating.
  • Picky can be selective, discriminating, particular.
  • Stubborn can be determined, a willingness to persist in the face of strong difficulties, perseverance.
  • Demanding can be holding high standards.
  • Loud, noisy can be enthusiastic.
  • Inflexible, rigid can be established, rooted, traditional.
  • Wild can be energetic, lively, vigorous.

Do not use physical touch as first method of reaching out to the child.

Education Environmental Ideas

Adapted from work of Susan Doctor, PhD
Consider the amount of stimulation in the classroom and school when you develop an IEP to help the child. Parents can also use this list to help make life less stressful and chaotic in their homes. Think about those things and conditions you can or are willing to change.


Children with FASD do best in a classroom with a teacher who is able to maintain control, safety and structure. These children need lots of positive statements and a teacher who is a positive role model. The teacher who is willing to break tasks into very small learning steps and does not mind teaching things over and over without getting frustrated, will have an easier time working with a child with FASD.
  • Is the child in the right classroom?
  • Does the teacher know about FASD?
  • Does the teacher suit the child’s special needs?
    Willing to work at child’s developmental level rather than actual age?


Consider setting up a small private area or enclosed space for the child to retreat to when needing quiet study or time to regroup. A personal desk is often better than grouping or sharing which can cause major distractions. Placing the teacher’s desk and aide desk at opposite sides of the classroom (front and back) provides better supervision. Adjust table and chair – feet touch floor, table height just below child’s elbow with fist reading under chin.
  • Where do students with attention problems sit?
    • Away from pencil shapener?
    • Near the teacher or aide?
  • Do children work in groups?
  • Do the desks face each other?
  • Are there any desks that are by themselves in a protected area?

Rules and Structure

Rules need to be clear, concise and positive, few in number and posted in an easy to see place. Consequences must be immediate and easily enforced. Do not go on and on. A few word work better than a lecture. Children may resent “rules” so renaming them ‘school or classroom standards’ and ‘classroom responsibilities’ and with teacher’s ‘personal expectations’ may help.
  • Are the areas within the classroom clearly defined?
  • Does furniture provide boundaries to separate work/play areas?
  • Are areas/materials labeled with pictures at the eye level of children?
  • Is a daily schedule visible in my room?
  • Are classroom rules posted?
    • Are they stated positively?
    • Do students know the consequences for breaking them?
  • IS there a safe secluded area where children are free to go to work, think, calm down, etc.
  • Do students have a way to store belongings neatly and organized?
  • Are materials safe and well maintained?
  • If time out is used, where does the student go?
  • Are there several people (other teachers, aides, the secretary, custodian) who will provide respite when a child is having a ‘bad day’?
  • Does the child have to sit idly for long periods of time when being disciplined?


  • Do I get the child’s attention before giving instructions. If I am not sure the child understands do I have the child explain it to me.
    • Keep instructions clear and simple.
    • If possible get eye contact with child, but do not force it.
  • Do I avoid putting an instruction into the form of a question “would you…? or “could you…?”
  • Allow for shorter work periods.
    • Break assignments into smaller pieces.
    • Keep materials to a minimum and distribute them as needed.
  • Use a “back and forth” book to keep parents informed of problems, homework, good behavior and to keep you informed of home issues and medications and change in child’s life.
  • Give child opportunity to move around – hand out papers, run errands, clean board.
  • Do I use hand signals for simple instructions:
    • Raise hand for “stop”?
    • Point to eye “look”?
    • Point to ear “listen”?
    • Secret hand signal for the child who blurts out answers?


Consider placing the child away from traffic areas.

  • Where are the major traffic areas in the classroom?
  • Do children sit near one of these areas? (pencil sharpener, sink, teacher’s desk, etc)?
  • Are traffic areas clearly defined?
  • Do people walk in and out of the classroom throughout the day?


Due to visual processing problems children may react poorly to fluorescent lights. Full spectrum or incandescent lighting may help in some cases.
What kind of lighting is in the class room?
  • Do the lights cause a glare?
  • Do they hum?
  • Do they flicker?
  • Are there red lights?
  • Are they clear, yellow or blue?


Due to visual, balance and motor issues children may need adaptations:
  • Graph paper to organize math.
  • Pencil grippers to help hold pencil.
  • Ruled with dotted lined paper.
  • Reminders to use non-dominant hand to hold paper.
Before beginning a writing assignment it may be helpful to have the child clench and unclench fists, push hands down hard on desk, push palms together, rub hands together or clap. White board or certain types of paper may be glaring to child.
What type of writing paper and book paper do you use?
  • Newsprint.
  • Glossy.
  • Color – bright or pastel.
  • Odor of copier ink.
  • Paper brightness (bright white compared to regular white)

School Cleaning Chemicals

  • Are they toxic smelling?
  • Do they have a heavy perfume smell?


Change is difficult for children with FASD. They may need more time to adjust to a new school session, school day or class. A child with FASD may function well sometimes and poorly at other times. A wise teacher watches out for a child who is getting stressed to prevent outbursts.
Prevention is better than intervention. Consider allowing students to “earn” tickets for good behavior at recess, lunch, on field trips on in hall passing. At the end of the week draw for a prize. The person with the most tickets has the most opportunities to win a prize.


  • What are the procedures for going to lunch?
    Does the child have to stand in line for a long time before getting food?
  • How do they return to the classroom after lunch?
  • What are the conditions of the lunch room?
    • How many children are in the lunch room?
    • Is “kid music” playing?
  • Is there a “no talk” rule?
  • Is there a time limit for eating?

School calendar

  • How long is the school day?
    Does the child have a longer-than-usual day four days a week and a shorter-than-usual day one day per week?
  • Is the school year-round?
    If so, how long does the child have to adjust to a new session?


  • Does the child have to ride a school bus for a long period of time to get to school?
    • Is the bus crowded?
    • Noisy?
    • Is discipline maintained?
    • Does the child have a seat belt if behavior indicates one is needed?

Moving from class to class

  • Does the child get sent from one adult to another several times a day?
  • Do children have to go from room to room often during the day?
  • What are the conditions when the child has to pass in the halls?
    • Are there many other children present?
    • Is there a time limit?
    • Does the child clearly know the way?
    • Is the child supervised?
    • Is the child expected to move through the halls alone? With classmates?


  • How do children get ready to go to recess?
  • How do they come back to the classroom from recess?
  • Is the playground well supervised?
  • Does the child play alone most of the time? With younger children? Not play?

Field Trips

  • How many assemblies, field trips, and special events interrupt the daily schedule?
  • How are field trips handled?
    Is adequate supervision provided for the child?

Classroom stimulation

The simpler a classroom is the less distractions for a child with FASD. Teachers who work with these special needs students have discovered that cleared counters, soft colors, shut or curtained cupboards and organized supplies help a child stay on task. A small pup tent or reading alcove surrounded by pillows allows a child space to retreat and regroup. Surrounding a child’s work area with a cardboard study corral will also limit distractions.

Decorations/displays are

  • On the walls?
  • Hanging from the ceilings?
  • On the closets or cupboards?
  • Is the bulletin board decorated with brightly colored figures?


  • Are they covered by material with a “busy” design or plain material of a soft color?
  • Is there a storage area away from the classroom to remove equipment and reduce stimuli?

Walls, desks, shelves, cupboards

  • Is the color bright?
  • Is the color soothing?
  • Are there many colors?


Due to auditory processing problems a child may not be able to shut out noises we hardly notice.

  • What is the noise level in the room?<
    • Is there continual background noise?
    • Is quiet talking allowed?
    • Is music played during the day? What kind of music?
  • Is there something causing a disturbing noise in the room? (heater, pipes, slamming door, screeching desk bottoms)?
  • Is the classroom near a room that is noisy or chaotic, (shop, band, PE, lunch room)?
  • Are there many interruptions during the day?
  • Is the intercom used continually throughout the day?

Note taking and copy work

Due to visual processing issues, the child may not be able to be able to refocus between close desk work and chalkboard. Note taking involves using your ears, eyes, and hands all at the same time, children with FASD may not be developmentally ready to do this.
Child may have peripheral vision problems and so must move head to see as may not see things until it is in the center of vision. Child may be unaware of the environment or surroundings because they don’t see it. Child’s behavior may change in afternoon. Peripheral vision may be worse as the child fatigues
This was entire thing was taken from toolbox parenting at Click on the link if you would like to learn more about them and what they do. I found this awesome that they did this! Had to put it. but to make it clear. I did not do one word of this. it was completely from them to give them full credit. Thanks! and Kudos to them for doing this. 

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