Essential Tips

1. Respect, build a relationship, and understand the learner:

  • acknowledge the learner's developmental levels in various domains
  • spend time getting to know your learner
  • understand the needs and the feelings of the learner
  • give praise for steps taken
  • teach that mistakes are normal and help us to learn
  • get to know your learner's family and establish a trusting relationship
  • ask the learner what would help him/her
  • advocate on the learner's behalf

2. Acknowledge the organic brain injury:

  • approach FASD as a physical, brain-based disability
  • connect how brain function links to the learning and behaviour
  • ask "What can I do differently to support this learner?"
  • ask "What is the behaviour communicating to me?"
  • plan and structure activities to provide success for all
  • on those tough days, remember that "Every day is a new day."

3. Acknowledge the environmental influences:

  • understand and adapt the environment to create a good fit for the learner
  • experience (sight, sounds, etc) the classroom from the learner's point of view
  • seat the learner in a less distracting area (preferential seating)
  • ensure that all things have a place -- classroom is organized in a consistent manner
  • control lighting, temperature, smells as much as possible
  • utilize visuals for everything (schedule, specific areas of room, labels, supplies, etc)
  • create a "quiet space" for learners to enjoy some "down" time

4. Use a strengths-based approach:

  • recognize and build on the strengths of the learner
  • help learners to find and identify their strengths and "amplify" them
  • focus on the positive and have fun
  • focus on strengths in developing the LEIC page and the IEP
  • take a strength and build it into a contribution to the school community

5. Communicate:

  • with student, family, school team, and community supports
  • reduce language whenever possible
  • use visual supports
  • say exactly what you want the learner to do
  • present an appropriate number of directions based on the learner's capabilities
  • ensure that the learner is comfortable asking for help
  • check in frequently with the student and provide praise and direction

6. Practice patience:

  • understand the nature of the disability - learning may be there one day, gone the next
  • break complex tasks into smaller steps
  • understand that repetition and many practice opportunities may be required
  • linking behaviour to brain function helps to "depersonalize" the behaviour

7. Create structure, routines, and consistency:

  • our kids rely on the structure and predictability of our classroom environments
  • teach routines for the "everyday" types of activities
  • provide advance warnings for changes to schedule and transitions
  • model, teach, practice and review classroom guidelines/routines throughout the year

8. Supervision:

  • determine an appropriate level of supervision, especially at unstructured times
  • try to be visible to the learner as much as possible
  • use conflicts/mistakes as opportunities for teaching

9. Teach social skills:

  • teach/practice in classroom setting then teach/practice in out-of-class settings
  • use small group setting when appropriate
  • build a positive peer climate in the classroom and utilize peer support
  • teach mediating skills using role plays

10. All Learners are different:

  • collect as much assessment information as possible to help inform instruction
  • there are no magical strategies; a strategy that works for one may not for another
  • our job is to know the learners well enough to find the strategies that may help
  • keep trying different strategies until you find the ones that make a difference