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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Special Needs Factsheet

What Teachers Should Know

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a grouping of physical, developmental, and functional problems that can happen in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy.

People with FAS can have problems related to:

There's no cure for FAS, but early intervention and medicine to treat behavioral issues can improve a student's success in school.

Students with FAS may:

  • need preferential seating in the front of the classroom due to hearing and vision problems
  • need to complete assignments or take tests in a separate room without distractions
  • need assistive devices or assistance in class due to poor coordination
  • need additional time to complete in-class and homework assignments
  • need tutoring or support, especially in reading and math
  • have learning, communication, attention, and social issues that isolate them from other students
  • take medicines to help with attention problems and other issues
  • miss class time for occupational, physical, and speech therapies
  • need an individualized education program (IEP) or 504 education plan
  • have poor self-esteem and be at risk of being bullied

What Teachers Can Do

Students with FAS may have social and emotional behaviors that are less developed than those of their classmates. Teachers may want to "think younger" when providing assistance to students with FAS by:

  • presenting information clear, brief, and simple segments
  • reducing distractions by keeping the classroom environment simple and structured
  • using visual materials
  • announcing schedule changes and transitions well in advance
  • using small-group settings when possible
  • helping them learn peaceful ways to express themselves if they get angry

Finding the best strategy for students with FAS may take time, so remember to be patient. 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 FAS do their best in school.

Reviewed by: Rupal Christine Gupta, MD
Date Reviewed: 14-08-2015