Alaska children affected by fetal alcohol spectrum disorder are now eligible for special education and related services.
The State Board of Education & Early Development adopted the new regulation during its meeting in Anchorage last week, according to a news release.
The board also agreed to allow advanced nurse practitioners — not just doctors — to diagnose fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
The regulation change came at the request of health professionals and followed public comments that were largely supportive, according to a board memo from Education Commissioner Mike Hanley.
Among the organizations commenting was the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education. In an Oct. 29 letter, the council said it applauds the decision to include fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) as a health impairment that makes students eligible for special education and other services in Alaska.
The disorder is often a hidden, brain-based disability that makes it hard for affected children to learn in a school setting because of challenges with hyperactivity, attention, memory, executive functioning, and sensory processing.
A recent study found that as many as one in 50, or up to two-percent of school-aged children may have FASD, according to the council’s letter.