When you are parenting a child with any issues school can be both a blessing and a huge problem. A blessing because at times with all of the issues parents may see school as a break. It is also a place for our children to hopefully find some friends/playmates. A problem as at times when people don’t understand the child’s needs then it is a fight to get the services and help for the child. This can become incredibly tiring and trying.
So, when parenting a child with a disability that some still see as non-existent and/or as mainly a behavioral problem and not a disability. Well then it also becomes an issue as not only are you fighting for the services but fighting for why they are needed. This is what it is like when parenting a child with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
The real issue is that at this time there is not any recognition of this disorder officially. So it does tie the hands of the teachers somewhat. Even when you have a great teacher and they want to give the best services there is only so much that can be done within a structured system. We need to find ways to present some of the simple and FREE or cheap interventions that can be done for our children. Even if a child is not on an IEP or any standardized support plan they can still have some help. One of the things that is very cheap and very easy is to realize that movement is very helpful and motivating for the FASD student. Movement breaks can help redirect the child very fast. Instead of a timeout try a movement break…dance crazy, jump on a trampoline, stand on a rockerboard and balance, jump rope. These are just a few of the ideas for a movement break. Also okay so if it is hard to sit still how about sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair or having a fidget band around the legs of the chair. How about starting the day with some basic yoga moves? It will amaze you how centering and calming these activities are. They don’t cost a lot. How about a chewing activity for the child who is trying to concentrate? Use things that are milk based like caramels or old fashioned salt water taffy.
Then there is the calming techniques. We taught one of our sons to pull up his hoodie when he was overwhelmed. We knew when the hoodie was up to give him space. He would put it down when he was done. Then he was fine to be talked to or engaged with. The problem is most schools will not allow children to wear hoodies or especially to have them up. So now it is necessary to try to find another way to give them a “quiet place”. So now it is is there a small room that can be kept clutter free and semi dark? Somewhere that they can escape to for a bit in order to reset and be ready to join the group again.
As frustrated parents lets try to look at this as even if we cannot always get the teachers, administrators, etc to accept that our children have FASD and this is brain damage and not just bad behavior can we at least get them to accept that these easy and cheap interventions work? If they work can we also try to get them to just implement a few to help?
So now our mission as parents, should we accept it, is to present ways to help with issues in the school without worrying about why they get implemented just THAT they get implemented. Also, I have listed a lot of ideas…these may or may not work. Each child will react differently to different input. You will have to see what works for your child, getting the help of a sensory processing disorder trained occupational therapist would help a lot.
Let’s work toward helping find answers…there are many battles to be fought. Eventually FASD will get the recognition it needs but until it does we will still find ways to get the interventions and help needed!