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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Factsheet (for Schools)

What Teachers Should Know

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause birth defects and problems with the baby’s growth and development. Babies exposed to alcohol in the womb can develop fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).

Children with FAS can have:

Students with FAS may:

  • need preferential seating due to hearing and vision problems
  • need assistive devices or assistance in class due to poor coordination
  • need extra time to do in-class and homework assignments
  • need learning support, especially in reading and math
  • have trouble getting along with other children
  • be at risk of being bullied
  • take medicines to help with attention problems and behavior
  • miss class time for occupational, physical, and speech therapies
  • need an individualized education program (IEP) or 504 education plan

What Teachers Can Do

Students with fetal alcohol syndrome do best in a structured environment with a consistent daily routine. You can help your students by:

  • presenting information in clear, brief, and simple segments
  • reducing distractions in the classroom 
  • using visual materials
  • announcing schedule changes and transitions well in advance
  • using small-group settings when possible

Finding the best strategy for students with FAS may take time. Assessing students' unique strengths, praising them for their efforts, and providing a supportive environment can go a long way toward helping kids and teens with fetal alcohol syndrome do their best in school.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date Reviewed: Oct 31, 2020

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