Thursday, December 2, 2010

Classroom Strategies for FASD

Classroom Strategies (this list is a start)

Work with student’s developmental age not his chronological age

• Repeat, repeat, repeat. Repeat, re-teach, repeat, reteach. Adapt the curriculum expectations
• If she repeatedly has outbursts look for the inciting stimuli and steer her away from them
• Alternate times of calm with activity, mini breaks for “brain gym” activities could be helpful
• Reduce stimuli in classroom. Have him looking at a blank wall up near you, not a colourful display
• Use a ruler, paper to cover everything except what is being read at that moment
• Colourful, attractive displays are very, very distracting for children with fasd. Low stimulus works
• Be prepared to handle clothes that itch (distract) — turn t-shirt inside out and tell parent/caregiver
• Figure out what she is good at and build on these functional skills
• Hands-on learning
• Small class size if possible
• Minimize transitions and prepare him for them in advance, “we are going to get out the red book”
• Transitions — forewarn, auditory cue (same song), visual cue (coat), action cue (hold coat open)
• Laminated visual cues — eg. coat, bathroom sink, lunch are helpful — visual learners
• Easy read labels — symbols, be organized, aim for an uncluttered classroom
• Create a personal bubble with tape, carpet square etc. to minimize poking, hitting, touching
• Lots of time, “10-second children in a 1-second world.” (Diane Malbin)
• Use only one book for writing in to minimize trying to find the right book in a disordered desk
• If he can handle it colour code books, get out your yellow book not Language Arts
• Have a quiet, soft place for de-stressing (not punishment) — bean bag chair, pillows, pup tent etc.
• If an assembly will be too stimulating, provide muted ear phones or keep child out of environment
• Do not ask why she did something or moralize. She does not know and morals are meaningless

Minimize homework. If it is causing too much stress it should not be done
• Let him have quiet “fiddle” toys — squishy balls, pocket full of rubber bands
• Sipping water from a sports bottle (straw attached, no spills) may help her attend to lesson
• If he can’t sit still a weighted blanket (large bean bag) may help him anchor his body in space
• Ensure you have eye contact with her when giving instructions, ask her to repeat simple directions
• Simplify complex directions and avoid multiple commands
• Make directions clear and concise and be consistent with daily instructions
• Develop some quiet cues (signs) to help him settle down, go to the quieting place when overstimulated
• Be firm when needed and give only limited choices.
• Make students feel comfortable with seeking assistance (most children will not ask for help)
• These children will need more help for a longer period
of time than the average child
• Remember he is not “misbehaving” on purpose to make you mad, “think brain not blame” (7)
• Analyzing, moralizing and traditional disciplinary methods do not work
• Behaviour modification and /or rewards/punishment will not work!
• Communication, patience, compassion, understanding and creativity do work — think fasd first!
• Provide transition help when switching over to middle, junior or high school
• Focus on life skill training, health and nutrition, job skills not higher academics
• Focus on communication, problem-solving, social and life skills — reality based education
• Try to incorporate math and literacy skills into life skills, eg. cooking, shopping, advertising etc.
• Continue to address high school student’s developmental, not chronological age (35)
• Routines are critical, these students may benefit from an “external brain buddy” to get to next class
• Fewer classrooms, classrooms close to each other works best
• Help her organize her locker and backpack
• Colour code subjects, yellow–math, red–English, blue– Family Studies — coloured stickers on texts

A special classroom for students with FASD features small class size, “personal bubbles” marked off with carpeting or tape, a low stimulus environment, easy read labels and laiminated cues, private spaces for de-stressing, private “time-in” spaces, and large bean bags for use as weighted blankets.

• Same locker and adult “external brain” year after year is helpful
• Use technology wherever practicable with these students — usually technologically savvy
• Provide fasd-aware tutors
• If what you are doing is not working, don’t try harder,
try differently!



Rhonda said...

Thank you for this excellent post. Our board has eliminated most segregated classes. It makes me very sad to see children whose needs are not being met because their teachers do not have the level of expertise or the time to give them what they need.

Colleen said...

I know it is sad when children with special needs slip through the cracks for whatever reason. It is difficult for teachers to meet so many needs when funding and resources are being cut. Hopefully this can help teachers examine their strategies and try new things rather than push the same old thing.

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