Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and Education

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Friday is the International Day of Education and we’re spending the whole week celebrating! We’re sharing stories, information, and resources every day this week to give you a better understanding of FASD and our education system.

In Canada, we have a strong education system that offers free elementary and high school learning opportunities to all Canadians. However, the structure of our education system does not necessarily take into account the varying needs of all learners across our nation.

Individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) are one such population with varying needs that, when not met, can impact their ability to succeed in our education system. Individuals with FASD often experience challenges with communication, socialization, behaviour,  and executive functioning as a result of this disability. Without proper educational supports students with FASD are often left behind in schools and are at risk for a number of secondary adverse outcomes including:

  • Dropping out of school;
  • Involvement with the criminal justice system;
  • Mental health issues; and
  • Substance use problems.

The experience of students with FASD in schools can significantly improve with access to educational resources and supports. These supports may include educational assistants, specialized programming, one-on-one interactions with teachers, specialized Individualized Education Plans, and more.

The United Nations state: “Education is at the heart of both personal and community development. Its mission is to help all people develop their talents fully and to realize their creative potentials, including responsibility for their own lives and the capacity to contribute to society.”

We need to ensure that the educational opportunities individuals with FASD receive are supplemented with supports to help them succeed. It is not enough for our education system to simply be. We have to ensure that our system evolves to support the learning needs of all members of our society. Sending students with FASD into a system that is not designed to help them succeed is setting them up for failure.

In order to ensure success, we, as a society, need to have a better understanding of FASD as a whole. There are a number of resources on the CanFASD website that give an overview of FASD and how it impacts Canadians. We recommend that everyone take 2 hours out of their day to go through the free Foundations in FASD online course. Individuals working in the education system or professionals working directly with individuals with FASD should consider taking our sector-specific level 2 courses designed to help you better understand and address FASD in your professional practice.

Happy Education Week!


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