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Strategies for Educators

In the United States, up to 1 in 20 children has a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or FASD. With that rate of prevalence, the chances are high that you have children in your class that are impacted by prenatal alcohol exposure. Educators play an important role in helping learners with an FASD reach their full potential.

Understand the Disorder

No two students with an FASD are alike but it is important to understand the basics of the disorder.

  • Understand that negative behaviors are most likely not willful. FASD is a brain-based disorder that impacts reasoning, impulsivity, memory, judgment and abstract reasoning.
  • Change your expectations while building on strengths.
  • FASD is a spectrum and each student is unique. It may take some trial and error to find effective strategies.
  • Don’t get into power struggles or use delayed consequences (immediate consequences are best).

Reframe What You See

  • Instead of behaviors, consider symptoms
  • Instead of won’t, consider can’t
  • Instead of refuses to be still, consider over- or under-stimulated
  • Instead of doesn’t care, consider doesn’t understand
  • Instead of lying, consider memory issues / confabulation
  • Instead of doesn’t try, consider tired of failing

View sources

1 May et al. Prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in 4 US Communities. JAMA. 2018;319(5): 474-482.

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data & statistics on autism spectrum disorder.