Challenged Hope

Grandmother raising Grandchildren with FASD in Hamilton Ontario Canada


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FAS: Starting a New School

FAS: Starting a New School

Tips to Remember for FAS: Starting a New School

FAS: Starting a New School

All children react when starting a new school, whether they have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or not, but kids with FAS can overreact to the situation. The following tips for starting a new school stem from my own experiences with FAS grandchildren.

  • Before school begins, drive by the school while out shopping, etc., using a positive tone to remind the child it will be their new school.
    • Tour the school with your child before the start date.
  • Take your child to meet the teacher. Then ask the child to draw/paint a picture of their new school and teacher. Post it on fridge and admire it in front of the child when family or friends visit.
  • Take photos of the school and interior as a reminder for the child of what to expect and post them on fridge. Apply colorful, funny stickers to the photos.
  • Do a count down a week before on the calendar. Use fun stickers. Encourage your child to cross off the days.
  • If you work, take a photo of yourself smiling at your job then remind the child that is where you will be, and you will be thinking of them the entire day.
  • Acknowledge separation anxiety and its consequences.
  • Explain there will be something special waiting for them on their return: favorite food, dollar-store items.
  • Let the child ask as many questions as needed. Smile whenever you mention school. It’s important to keep the mood upbeat.
  • Prepare the child the night before by preparing the lunch, laying out clothes, and stuffing backpack, avoiding a rushed atmosphere the following morning.
  • If friends will be attending the new school, remind your child of who they are.
  • Reassure the child as much as possible, but don’t give in to pressure.
  • Have an emergency contact at the ready in case the child is dismissed early due to behavior.
  • Expect problems so you won’t be disappointed.

FAS: Starting a New School

The best people to ask for advice around starting a new school, are children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and one of those children is my youngest granddaughter with FAS who is now a teen.  Following, are her strategies for teachers educating students with FAS. She insists all the strategies worked for her, plus, she thinks my blog is cool and helpful to others, and wants to get involved.

“Thank you, darling, and congratulations on this defining moment as you take your first step toward advocating for children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. I love you and look forward to many more of your posts”

My youngest teenage granddaughter with FAS, suggests the following strategies for teachers. She told me, I just typed:

  • It helps if the child knows the teacher well before starting the school. Have more than one meetup with the teacher before the day arrives so the child remembers who the teacher is. (Grandma thinks this a great idea. Perhaps several meet ups over the month of August could be arranged with the teacher)
  • Supply fidget toys for the child, i.e. stress balls, floam, mini stuffies, available from any dollar store by either teacher or parent. Teacher must not get agitated if the child uses the fidget toys a little too noisily during a class.
  • Absolutely NO YELLING on the teacher’s part. It makes things worse and the loud noise upsets the child.
  • The teacher should give advance warning before ending one subject and beginning another.
  • If the child is becoming overwhelmed, distract the child with another activity.
  • If the child finds it difficult to write down instructions, have them take a photo (cell phone) of the instructions instead, i.e. from the chalk/white board and read the instructions from there.
  • To raise the child’s confidence promote them to helper of a chore you know they can do.
  • Supply free time on electronics, board games etc., as a reward for positive attitude.
  • Supply stuffies for recess/sick time.
  • If a fight with another student ensues, ask for an explanation then instruct the child to walk with a friend while listening to music to allow for calm down time.
That is interesting! Each one of the strategies has helped my granddaughter achieve success at school. But I hasten to add she has an amazing teacher, which helps no end when parents are advocating for their children’s education. As this is her first contribution to this website, please leave a comment of support as she steps out of her comfort zone to help others!

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What is Specialized School Programming?

In Ontario, Canada, there are various forms of specialized school programming for children with disabilities. According to the Ontario government website at: edu.gov.on.ca …. Exceptional pupils are identified as such by an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC). Upon receiving a written request from a student’s parent(s)/guardian(s), the principal of the school must refer the student to an IPRC. The IPRC will decide whether the student is an exceptional pupil and, if so, what type of educational placement is appropriate. The principal may also, on written notice to the parent(s)/guardian(s), refer the student to an IPRC. The parent(s)/guardian(s), as well as a student who is sixteen years of age or older, have the right to attend the IPRC meeting and may request that the IPRC discuss potential programs that would meet the student’s needs. On the basis of these discussions, the IPRC can recommend the special education programs and/or services that it considers to be appropriate for the student.

The regulation governing the identification and placement of exceptional pupils directs the IPRC to consider the integration of exceptional pupils into regular classes. Before considering the option of placing a student in a special education class, the committee must first consider whether placement in a regular class, with appropriate special education programs and services, would meet the student’s needs and be consistent with the parent’s preferences. Where placement in a special education class is deemed most appropriate, the IPRC must provide written reasons for its decision. For students whose needs cannot be met entirely in the regular classroom, a range of placement options is available.

These options include:

  • A regular class with indirect support where the student is placed in a regular class for the entire day, and the teacher receives specialized consultative services.
  • A regular class with resource assistance where the student is placed in a regular class for most or all of the day and receives specialized instruction, individually or in a small group, within the regular classroom from a qualified special education teacher.
  • A regular class with withdrawal assistance where the student is placed in a regular class and receives instruction outside the classroom, for less than 50 per cent of the school day, from a qualified special education teacher.
  • A special education class with partial integration where the student is placed by the IPRC in a special education class in which the student-teacher ratio conforms to Regulation 298, section 31, for at least 50 per cent of the school day, but is integrated with a regular class for at least one instructional period daily.
  • A full-time special education class where the student-teacher ratio conforms to Regulation 298, section 31, for the entire school day.

The IPRC may also consider referring the student to a provincial committee for consideration of eligibility for admission to one of the Provincial Schools for blind, deaf or deaf-blind students, or to one of the Provincial Demonstration Schools for students with severe learning disabilities.