Essential Tips

1. Respect, build a relationship, and understand the learner:

·   acknowledge the learner's developmental levels in various domains

·   spend time getting to know your learner

·   understand the needs and the feelings of the learner

·   give praise for steps taken

·   teach that mistakes are normal and help us to learn

·   get to know your learner's family and establish a trusting relationship

·   ask the learner what would help him/her

·   advocate on the learner's behalf


2. Acknowledge the organic brain injury:

·   approach FASD as a physical, brain-based disability

·   connect how brain function links to the learning and behaviour

·   ask "What can I do differently to support this learner?"

·   ask "What is the behaviour communicating to me?"

·   plan and structure activities to provide success for all

·   on those tough days, remember that "Every day is a new day."


3. Acknowledge the environmental influences:

·   understand and adapt the environment to create a good fit for the learner

·   experience (sight, sounds, etc) the classroom from the learner's point of view

·   seat the learner in a less distracting area (preferential seating)

·   ensure that all things have a place -- classroom is organized in a consistent manner

·   control lighting, temperature, smells as much as possible

·   utilize visuals for everything (schedule, specific areas of room, labels, supplies, etc)

·   create a "quiet space" for learners to enjoy some "down" time


4. Use a strengths-based approach:

·   recognize and build on the strengths of the learner

·   help learners to find and identify their strengths and "amplify" them

·   focus on the positive and have fun

·   focus on strengths

·   take a strength and build it into a contribution to the school community


5. Communicate:

·   with student, family, school team, and community supports

·   reduce language whenever possible

·   use visual supports

·   say exactly what you want the learner to do

·   present an appropriate number of directions based on the learner's capabilities

·   ensure that the learner is comfortable asking for help

·   check in frequently with the student and provide praise and direction


6. Practice patience:

·   understand the nature of the disability - learning may be there one day, gone the next

·   break complex tasks into smaller steps

·   understand that repetition and many practice opportunities may be required

·   linking behaviour to brain function helps to "depersonalize" the behaviour


7. Create structure, routines, and consistency:

·   our kids rely on the structure and predictability of our classroom environments

·   teach routines for the "everyday" types of activities

·   provide advance warnings for changes to schedule and transitions

·   model, teach, practice and review classroom guidelines/routines throughout the year


8. Supervision:

·   determine an appropriate level of supervision, especially at unstructured times

·   try to be visible to the learner as much as possible

·   use conflicts/mistakes as opportunities for teaching


9. Teach social skills:

·   teach/practice in classroom setting then teach/practice in out-of-class settings

·   use small group setting when appropriate

·   build a positive peer climate in the classroom and utilize peer support

·   teach mediating skills using role plays


10. All Learners are different:

·   collect as much assessment information as possible to help inform instruction

·   there are no magical strategies; a strategy that works for one may not for another

·   our job is to know the learners well enough to find the strategies that may help

·   keep trying different strategies until you find the ones that make a difference[1]








[1] accessed on the 13th July 2014



The Right Job with the Right Employer

The Right job with the Right Employer is a critical aspect of sustainable employment for a person with FASD.  In many disability employment organisations, highlighting strengths and minimising areas for improvement is the standard mantra.  However with FASD it is important to also identify the areas where the individual has problems and ensure the employer is aware of them and how to manage them at work.  The employer also needs to understand why these areas cause problems and what needs to be in place (accommodations) to ensure that neither the employer or the employee is affected negatively.

Read more: The Right Job with the Right Employer

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