FASD, or Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is on the rise in our schools and is now thought to affect as many of our young people as autism does (around 1 in 100 students). Learn more about it here as well as how you can support children in your classroom who have FASD.
What is FASD?
The FASD Trust tells us that:
FASD is a series of preventable birth defects caused entirely by a woman drinking alcohol at any time during her pregnancy, often even before she knows that she is pregnant. Beer, wine, spirits – it’s all the same to the developing baby.
The term “Spectrum” is used because each individual with FASD may have some or all of a spectrum of mental and physical challenges. In addition each individual with FASD may have these challenges to a degree or “spectrum” from mild to very severe.
Common problems include:
Poor immune system
Speech & language delays
Inappropriate social behaviour
These defects of both the brain and the body exist only because of prenatal exposure to alcohol. Often the condition goes undiagnosed, or is misdiagnosed, for example as Autism or ADHD, and this can lead to secondary disabilities.
Is there a “safe” drinking limit during pregnancy?
The short answer is no. There is no safe limit to the amount of alcohol a woman can drink while pregnant. Some women drink fairy heavily and seem to have an otherwise “normal” baby while other people may deliver a child with FASD complications having only consumed very moderate amounts of alcohol while pregnant. The advice is not to drink at all – it’s simply not worth the risk.
What can teachers do?
Teachers can do two main things; they can educate teenage girls to the risks related to consuming alcohol during pregnancy in a bid to help reduce the prevalence of the condition. Teachers can also offer appropriate support to children in their classroom who do have FASD. Sadly, this is an incurable condition so schools should have a strong emphasis on teaching prevention.
On the Axcis SEND Resources section of the blog, you will find some excellent FASD support sheets. These were published by the SSAT in conjunction with highly respected individual in the field, so you can be reassured of the accuracy of the information as well as the suggestions made about how you can support children with FASD in your own classroom.
Are you seeking SEND work?
If you’re not already registered with Axcis, but would like to seek a special needs teaching or support position, why not get in touch or register today and find out how we can assist you? We have offices nationwide and a team of expert consultants who have proven relationships with specialist and mainstream schools in your area.