CanFASD: Article Summary: School Curriculum Advice from a Young Adult with FASD

canfasd

There are relatively few studies in the FASD literature that include the voices of individuals with FASD. Additionally, the school experiences for people with FASD also remains a significant gap in the research.

To fill these gaps, this article shares the personal account of 21 year-old Nathan who described his own personal strengths, challenges, and strategies related to school. A strategy known as Photovoice was used for this study, which focuses on providing a perspective to marginalized groups. Participants (Nathan in this case) take photos that are meaningful to them and further discuss the importance of their photographs in relation to their personal experience.

Strengths:

  • Self-awareness of own learning abilities
  • Visual learning
  • Spatial memory
  • Awareness of others’ emotions
  • Talent/love for acting

Challenges:

  • Reading; writing; math
  • Memorizing
  • Concentrating
  • Completing homework
  • Drawn to friends who are a negative influence
  • Difficulty accessing community supports after a certain age (~18 years old)

Strategies:

  • Memorizing in parts
  • Taking breaks as needed
  • Noting cues from those around him
  • Completing only one task at a time
  • Prioritizing tasks

Nathan also offered advice for other people with FASD, as well as the general public:

  • See the positive and negative side of FASD
  • Find out as much about FASD as possible
  • Parents and the school system need to be educated on FASD
  • To individuals with FASD: “Find your strengths, find your weaknesses and don’t be ashamed of that”
  • “Don’t judge” and ”be patient” (with individuals who have FASD)

Areas of Importance for Caregivers, Teachers, and the Community

  • If choosing post-secondary education, young adults with FASD and their families should consider the needs and characteristics of the individual, resources at the school, and other supports available
  • There is also a need for programs and services that assist individuals with FASD with the transition from high school to post-secondary, or into the workforce, with the potential of a peer-sponsorship program
  • It is also important that teachers and other students understand FASD, and are comfortable interacting with and supporting those with the disorder
  • Additionally, recognizing the unique strengths (and not only challenges) of those with FASD will help to increase awareness, understanding, and support for these individuals

Take-Home Message:
Including the voices of individuals with FASD is essential to understanding their school experiences. Stories of personal experiences, successes, and challenges allow us to identify areas of strengths and needs, and support positive outcomes in educational settings and beyond.

For more information:

Title: A school curriculum for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: Advice from a young adult with FASD

Journal: International Journal of Inclusive Education

Authors: Beverley Brenna, Meridith Buries, Lorraine Holtslander, and Sarah Bocking

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