By Robin Hilborn, Family Helper editor

Children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome may develop patterns of behaviour which inhibit academic and social development, leaving them at risk for failure in school.

Unfortunately for students with FAS, teachers easily misinterpret their behaviour—and end up punishing rather than helping.

Teachers and parents unfamiliar with the normal responses of children with FAS may wrongly assume a child is misbehaving when, in fact, that child is desperately trying to do what is expected.

Below are some examples of misinterpretation, and correct interpretation.

How a teacher may misinterpret the normal response
of a student with FAS

Behaviour Misinterpretation     Accurate interpretation
Noncompliance         Willful misconduct
Seeking attention
Difficulty translating verbal directions into action
Doesn't understand
Repeatedly makes
  the same mistakes
Willful misconduct
Can't link cause to effect
Can't see similarities
Difficulty generalizing
Often late Lazy, slow
Poor parenting
Willful misconduct
Can't understand the concept of time
Needs help organizing
Doesn't sit still Seeking attention
Bothering others
Willful misconduct
Neurologically-based need to move while learning
Sensory overload
Poor social
Poor parenting
Willful misconduct
Abused child
Not able to interpret social cues from peers
Doesn't know what to do
Overly physical Willful misconduct
Hyper- or hypo-sensitive to touch
Doesn't understand social cues regarding boundaries
Doesn't work
Willful misconduct
Poor parenting
Chronic memory problems
Can't translate verbal directions into action

—Debra Evensen, in Fasets, Summer 1995 (Montana FAS/E Program)
Many FAS resources are listed at Adoption Resource Central - FAS.



The challenge of school for the adoptee
School issues your child will face
Help your child deal with racism
When birds don't flock together
Should you tell the teacher?
You can give an adoption talk
Language development is key

Learning disabilities

What are learning disabilities?
Detect learning disabilities early
Cope with your child's LD
Brodzinsky on learning disabilities
Do adoptees need special ed classes?
Are LDs inherited?

Special needs

Accept your child's special needs
FAS: Friendly school environments
Helping students with FAS
ADHD and the school system
Manage your ADHD child in school
Strategy for the parent advocate
You may reproduce this item with the credit:
"From Family Helper," ________________________________________
First published in Family Helper No. 45, "Adoption Goes To School", ISBN 0-9733470-4-X. Adapted in part from Post-adoption Helper No. 7, "Adoptive Parents' Guide to Your Child in Primary School", edited by Jennifer Smart.