How Do Educators Recognize These Students?
Since FASD is usually an invisible disorder educators need to learn what the common brain-based neurobehaviours of FASD look like. This allows them to re-frame these behaviours as brain damage rather than wilful misbehaviour. Students then can be seen as “hurt” and in need of appropriate help and accommodations as opposed to “bad” and in need of behaviour modification, a technique that has been repeatedly shown not to work for these types of students. A helpful construct to use in identifying FASD behaviours is represented by the acronym A-L-A-R-M-S.
An example of one letter of ALARMS would be “A” as in Adaptation (problems). After a period of playing well, Riley, a 5 year-old boy in SK is asked to take turns and leave the sand table for the book centre. Rather than complying Riley refuses to move and over a 3 minute interval escalates to screaming, hitting, biting and throwing objects. The classroom is evacuated for student safety and it takes the teacher and educational assistant at least 30 minutes to calm this now terrified child who has retreated under a table to chew on the cuff of his shirt. This is a classic and common example of typical FASD brain damage in a young child. Riley’s brain will not allow him to stop one activity and move on to another one no matter how reasonable the request may seem to the adults who are in charge of this classroom.
A full description of FASD behaviours symbolized by A-L-A-R-M-S will found at this link.