FASD- What thoughts come to mind when you hear that acronym? Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder is a relatively new term but over the last few decades much research has been done and we are the beneficiaries. Take some time to review the information here but don’t just review it. Open your mind to the possibility that perhaps your conceptions about this malady are, in truth, misconceptions! One of the books recommended for learning about FASD is “Trying Differently Rather than Harder” by Diane Malbin. It is an excellent resource. Faylene Wiebe has written the following article citing various parts of this book.
Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and Mighty! God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!
Holy! Holy! Holy! All the saints adore Thee, Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee, Who was and is and evermore shall be.
Holy! Holy! Holy! Tho’ the darkness hide Thee, Tho’ the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see,
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee Perfect in Power, love, and purity.
Holy! Holy! Holy! Lord God Almighty! All Thy works shall praise thy name, in earth and sky and sea;
Holy! Holy! Holy! Merciful and Mighty! God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity! Amen
Reginald Heber, John B Dykes
It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 I’ve been thinking of the mercy of God and how we need mercy one with another, especially as it applies to children/people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. I feel like Fetal Alcohol Disorders is a vast subject and that we need to gain as much knowledge as we can to try to understand what people with FASD are dealing with and the challenges they face. One book that I feel explains it very well is “Teaching Students with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders”. It is put out by the Florida State University for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy. A PDF is available if you Google the book title with the words, “Florida school”.
Five essential teaching methods and strategies for the student with FASD have been established and recognized. They are a structured environment, consistent routine, brief presentations, variety, and repetition. In addition, effective classroom teachers utilize creativity, flexibility, humor, compassion, and
patience. Another book I highly recommend is “Trying Differently Rather than Harder” by Diane Malbin, M.S.W. This book will give an insight into a person’s life who deals with FASD and should fill you with understanding, compassion, love, and mercy, that through no fault of their own they were handed this physical disability. I believe a greater knowledge of FASD would make a real difference in all our lives!
“Parents and professionals report a significant shift in their perception about people with FASD once the disability is understood from a neurological perspective. As a result, feelings toward those with FASD also change, moving from frustration to understanding and acceptance. The following pre and post evaluation of participants in a course at the University of Wisconsin captures this shift. The column on the left contains descriptions of children with FASD prior to receiving information on FASD. The column on the right contains descriptions six months later, after information on FASD was provided.
From seeing the child as….
Acting younger, babied
Trying to get attention
Personal feelings from…
Professional shifts from…
To understanding the child….
Tries hard, tired of failing
Confabulates, fills in the blanks
Needs contact, support
Displays behaviors of a younger child
To feelings of
Modeling, using visual cues
Diane Malbin (2002) Trying Differently Rather than Harder pg 42-43
Things to remember:
A child with FASD has a slower cognitive pace. Ask them to repeat what you just said to make sure they understand.
Avoid power struggles. You are working WITH the child. You must stay calm yourself to get them to think.
A sense of humor is invaluable.
Every day is a new day. Never bring past happenings into today. Deal with everything as it comes up. A child with FASD doesn’t remember anyway.
Prepare them for change and help them learn to accept change. E.g., “We are leaving in 5 minutes.” Change their environment if needed. E.g., Are the lights buzzing? Switch them off or use lamplight. Think about physical sensitivity, developmental age, cognitive and auditory processing speed, memory inconsistencies, and symptoms of fatigue.
Try not to take things personally. Depersonalize the behavior.
Recognize the need for memory cues. As much as possible, use strengths to support retrieval of information, including visuals (pictures or photographs), music or other mediums.
Recognize that the child is acting his or her developmental age. Extend timelines for maturation and achievements.
A child with FASD has difficulty with generalization and with forming links
Have patience when you are teaching- and reteaching.
There are a lot of books on FASD that leave one with a feeling of hopelessness but there is always hope. We don’t know any person’s potential and should never give up before we even begin. With God all things are possible. People with FASD may need to continue to have appropriate supports. This suggests the importance of providing information on FASD to entire communities to assure continued support. Many of these people feel God doesn’t love them and question why God would do this to them. May we be self-sacrificing people who stand by the way with compassion, patience and understanding, teaching them about God’s mercy and love, bringing them a hope for the future- their future.