” NACCHO in 2018 partnered with the Menzies School of Health Research and the Telethon Kids Institute (TKI) to develop and implement health promotion resources and interventions to prevent and reduce the impacts of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and young children.”
Although high rates of alcohol consumption have been reported across all Australian populations, research shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are more likely to consume alcohol at harmful levels during pregnancy, thereby greatly increasing the risk of stillbirths, infant mortality and infants born with an intellectual disability.”
FASD is an umbrella term used to describe the range of effects that can occur in individuals whose mother consumed alcohol during pregnancy.
These effects may include physical, mental, behavioral, developmental, and or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications.”
From the FASD Strategy 2018 -2028 NACCHO Post
Teachers play a critical role in facilitating positive learning and life outcomes for students with FASD.
These children do not respond to traditional instructions or classroom management techniques, and while many children with FASD have average or high intelligence, they also have complex needs which impact many aspects of the school environment. Behaviours and challenges of a child with FASD vary, and can include:
- learning difficulties
- difficulty connecting actions to consequences (don’t learn from mistakes)
- difficulty making and keeping friends
- attention / hyperactivity
- memory challenges (short and long term)
- developmental delays
NOFASD Australia’s website provides a range of resources for teachers and educators.
We have also produced a number of webinars including a 45 minute webinar for teachers which can be viewed here.
Some valuable resources include:
The Marulu FASD Strategy publication Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and complex trauma: A resource for educators is valuable for educators and other professionals.
This book contains detailed information about FASD and how it interacts with trauma, and provides many practical strategies for supporting young people with FASD in the classroom.
South Australia’s Department of Education has a comprehensive webpage on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder which can be accessed here. This page covers the education implications of FASD, managing FASD in education and care, supporting children and families with FASD and related resources. Downloadable resources include:
- An interoception support planwhich provides a detailed explanation and opportunity for the development of individualised strategies to assist children to understand their bodies and thus self-regulate.
- A sensory overview support planwhich can provide a detailed understanding of individual sensory difficulties and assist in developing strategies to minimise sensory overload in the education setting.
- A regulation scale which assists children and adolescents to identify what is impacting their mood, what signals their body is giving them, and ways to respond and manage their change in mood.
WRAP Schools has produced short videos based on 8 Magic Keys: Developing Successful Interventions for Students with FAS by Deb Evensen and Jan Lutke. These are valuable resources for teachers and may be beneficial for parents and caregivers too. Read an overview of each Magic Key and watch them here.
NOFASD Australia’s resource, an Introduction to Teachers, can be downloaded and completed by parents/carers to provide specific information on strengths, challenges, and effective strategies for their individual child.
We recommend you access NOFASD’s comprehensive resources for teachers and educators. Recommended links include:
Supporting students with FASD – online learning
Trying Differently Rather Than Harder – highly recommended reading
Understanding FASD: A comprehensive guide for pre-k to 8 educators
Finally, this video describes a shift in approach when working with students with FASD:
To read other NOFASD Australia blogs click here.
You may also like to read Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Network’s blog KNOWFASD: Academic Difficulties.
From Doctor Meg Perkins Part 2 of 2
Research in Australia has shown:
50% of pregnancies are unplanned –there is a link between unplanned
pregnancy and binge drinking
47% consumed alcohol before knowing they were pregnant
18% were binge drinking (≥5 standard drinks) prior to pregnancy recognition
54% consumed alcohol during their pregnancy (any amount/frequency)
26% consumed alcohol after knowing they were pregnant
• caused by prenatal alcohol exposure
• found in any part of Australia, any ethnic or cultural group or socioeconomic group
• a diagnostic term for severe neurodevelopmental impairments such as
difficulties with language, memory, learning, behaviour, impulsivity & hyperactivity
• a lifelong disability
• estimated to have a prevalence of between
2-5% in the general population (worldwide) and within specific populations in Australia 20-36%
• associated with significant social and economic costs (FASD 2020 Conference materials)
20% in the Fitzroy Valley
36% in youth detention WA unknown in Australia
Dr Meg Perkins PhD BA Hons (Clinical Psychology) MAPS
From Doctor Meg Perkins
This is very confronting and stigmatising … “Although high rates of alcohol consumption have been reported across all Australian populations, research shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are more likely to consume alcohol at harmful levels during pregnancy, thereby greatly increasing the risk of stillbirths, infant mortality and infants born with an intellectual disability.” This links drinking patterns to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in a misleading way.
That Aboriginal children are more at risk for FASD is not what I am hearing from the experts at the FASD national conferences and I would not share that information. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is not an intellectual disability but a brain injury with cognitive impairment. Many non-Aboriginal children have FASD misdiagnosed as something else, autism, learning disabilities etc, and are seeing psychologists or other therapists due to the fact that their parents are privileged and have the resources to get help.
It is children in care and children in the youth justice system that are being diagnosed with FASD and Aboriginal people are over represented in those groups. There has been no research study on the prevalence of FASD in non-Aboriginal groups in Australia. None, so the prevalence rates can’t be compared. One study was done in the WA youth detention centre where most of the young people were Aboriginal and one was done in an Aboriginal community in the Fitzroy Valley.
Stigma is a terrible thing and will prevent the people who need it from seeking help so we are trying to avoid increasing shame and stigma as much as possible. In any case, you don’t have to consume alcohol at harmful levels to cause FASD.
Dr Meg Perkins PhD BA Hons (Clinical Psychology) MAPS
Tweed Coast Psychology and Educational Programs PO Box 14 Hastings Point NSW 2489
First Stop FASD Consultancy (Brain and Behaviour)
firstname.lastname@example.org 0417 614 135