Introduction to supporting students with FASD

The school environment is extremely challenging for most students with FASD, irrespective of IQ or background. We fully understand that it's also challenging for many teachers trying to manage the FASD behavioural symptoms observed in a school environment, both in the classroom and the playground.

We want to tautoko / support both sides of this relationship, because two points are very clear:

• an inclusive education is one of the most powerful and important indicators of later-life success for those with FASD; and

• when kaiako / teachers are FASD-informed, they find teaching these neurodiverse students easier and more rewarding.

FASD-informed academic and behavioural support and supervision of the child both within the class and playground is essential at school. Usually, the unstructured activities and need to interpret social interactions in the playground make support and supervision in this area of school essential, but sadly lacking.

Walking beside caregivers and whānau

Many children with FASD have mixed feelings about school. They love the social interaction but get frustrated and anxious about academic learning. And most parents/caregivers find the education of their tamariki and rangatahi the most difficult, problematic and draining aspect of their FASD journey. 

Something we hear constantly via our member discussion groups and from our own lived experience at FASD-CAN is that many schools do not listen to caregivers and whānau when it comes to learning more about these ākonga. Effective, open communication between home and school is absolutely vital to a successful educational experience for a child with FASD – and for their teachers!

Caregivers and parents know better than anyone what works and what doesn't for their tamariki or rangatahi, and there is no doubt that many sad and stressful situations would have ended very differently if schools, educators and support workers accepted this and prioritised working closely with whānau wherever possible.

Note: if caregivers or whānau require information about FASD, please feel free to direct them to our caregivers guide to FASD and the Education System. There are some resources here that both caregiver and teacher can complete together to ensure both are on the same page regarding the ākonga / student.