In order to be successful at school, adults with an FASD will need:

  • An advocate for trust, availability, concern and action
  • Gentle guidance: understanding what is expected of them and when and how to act
  • Realistic goals, structure and supervision with constructive feedback (both academic and social)
  • More time, more repetitions, and fewer distractions
  • Something to feel good about, some success somewhere
  • Some friends, even if older or younger, including teachers and advocates

Organizing Physical Space

Reduce the visual and auditory distractions in the classroom. Examples:

  • Remove hangings from the ceiling
  • Organize bulletin boards and bookshelves so they are uncluttered
  • Close the classroom door to reduce hallway noise

Reinforcing Routines and Assisting with Transitions

Keep the classroom schedule the same all year and use visuals to reinforce the schedule. Examples:

  • Hold up a book for reading time
  • Keep the seating assignment consistent all year long
  • Use a consistent signal when a change in routine is about to happen (a soft bell, a tap on the board, etc.)

Make Learning Accommodations

  1. Institute simple assists like the use of a calculator, a manila folder placed on the top of the student’s desk to block out distractions or a ruler on the page while reading to help the student keep his or her place.
  2. To verify understanding, have the student explain instructions in his or her own words or demonstrate what he or she has learned.
  3. Provide a daily list of homework assignments with a check box next to each assignment.

Assisting Social Development and Improving Behavior

  1. Post and enforce specific consequences for good and inappropriate behavior in the classroom.
  2. Remember that the student’s inappropriate behavior may be a frustration or lack of understanding.

Modifying the Curriculum

  1. Design worksheets with no more than three or four problems and a lot of white space.
  2. Allow students to use the computer to carry out activities whenever possible. Computers provide immediate feedback and unwavering consistency of approach.
  3. Give directions one step at a time. Wait for the student to complete the first step in the directions before describing the second step.

See Case Studies in this chapter for additional Classroom and Workplace Strategies for Adults with FASD. This Case Study is written by an ABE Teacher and parent of a young woman with FASD.

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