Adapt the Environment
Children with FASD have an invisible brain-based condition. This means the best strategies are ones that change the child’s environment rather than focusing on changing the child. Creating a calming physical space, having clear and consistent schedules and routines, and communicating appropriately can be helpful. Being supported and supervised by people who understand and have adapted their expectations of the child will create the best environment for children to reach their potential.
Children with FASD develop differently than their peers. It can be helpful to think about our expectations and adapt these to ‘think younger.’ Children with FASD may be socially immature and need more support and supervision than what is expected of their chronological age. Using simple language and concepts will help.
Build on Strengths
Every child with FASD is unique and will have their own strengths and difficulties. Identifying their strengths and using these when planning daily-living, learning and leisure activities will enable children to grow in self-esteem and be successful in their learning. Praise children when they make even small achievements - they have often worked hard to get there.
Keep it Simple
Children with FASD can become overwhelmed easily. Therefore, it is important to keep things simple. Break down more complex tasks into simple steps so that children don’t need to “fill in the blanks.” Allow time for breaks and be aware of spending too long on a task. It can help to do only one task at a time, give one instruction at a time and say exactly what you mean. Keep the environment uncluttered and focused on the task at hand.
It can take many tries for a child with FASD to learn and sometimes they can forget even once you think they’ve got it! You will often have to repeat instructions again and again. It’s important to be patient and calm. Finding someone to talk to, ways you can be supported and what helps you cope will help you to achieve this.
Work as a Team
Children with FASD may have many family, friends and professionals helping them to achieve their potential. These people are often important for providing the extra supervision and structure that children with FASD need. Children will learn best if there is consistency in language, routine, rules and expectations from all these people. This means communication between everyone, including the child, should be open and clear.