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Fragile X Syndrome Factsheet (for Schools)

What Teachers Should Know

Fragile X syndrome (FXS), also known as Martin-Bell syndrome, is the most common cause of inherited intellectual disability. FXS is caused by a change in a gene on the X chromosome. This change means the body can't make a protein needed for normal brain development.

FXS affects both males and females, but is more common in males. FXS can lead to:

  • developmental delays
  • learning disabilities
  • social and behavioral problems
  • intellectual disabilities

People with FXS also may have other conditions, including:

Students with FXS may:

  • need seating accommodations and assistive or adaptive equipment in class
  • need extra learning support
  • have problems with planning, problem-solving, and impulsivity
  • be very sensitive to sounds, lights, textures, tastes, and smells
  • miss class time for occupational, physical, and speech therapies
  • need frequent breaks during class time to help cope with anxiety and worry
  • need small-group or one-on-one instruction for new concepts or tasks
  • need an individualized education program (IEP) or 504 education plan

What Teachers Can Do

Students with FXS work best in a calm, structured learning environment without distractions. You can help your students with FXS by:

  • using visual cues in addition to verbal instructions
  • making time for extra breaks
  • letting them wear noise-reduction headphones, dimming lights (if possible), providing quiet areas, and limiting classroom distractions
  • teaching all your students self-calming strategies to avoid emotional outbursts

Providing consistency and maintaining routines in the classroom, as well as encouraging participation in all appropriate activities, can help students with FXS do their best in school.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date Reviewed: Sep 23, 2020

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