A Framework for Supporting Students with FASD

The student has attended the FASD Clinic… Now what? Firstly, it is important to know that confirmed prenatal alcohol exposure does not assume a diagnosis. Specific diagnostic criteria, impairment in 3 or more brain domains, must still be met. Brain domains which are explored in the assessment and diagnosis of FASD include: (1) Motor skills, (2) Neuroanatomy/Neurophysiology, (3) Cognition, (4) Language, (5) Academic achievement, (6) Memory, (7) Attention, (8) Executive Function, including impulse control, (9) Affect regulation, (10) Adaptive behavior, social skills, or social communication. After the FASD assessment, the student will have likely received a diagnosis of FASD or No FASD.

THE STUDENT IS DIAGNOSED WITH FASD

As a result of meeting diagnostic criteria, the student has been given a medical diagnosis of FASD. Due to the comprehensive nature of the FASD assessment process, the multi-disciplinary team also has the opportunity to determine other possible areas of struggle for the student; for example, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), specific learning disorder, expressive or receptive language delay. The thorough assessment allows schools an opportunity to pursue appropriate coding for their students and ensure access to specific support services which promote success in the school environment.

Clinic reports… The caregivers/guardians are typically provided with a clinic summary report (which includes recommendations) after attending the post-clinic conference on the second day of the FASD Clinic. Caregivers/guardians are able to share the summary report and the comprehensive report with school support teams and other service providers which can enable more informed support, in addition to a more detailed understanding of the student’s strengths and brain-based vulnerabilities. There is valuable information in the assessment reports. Ensure staff members are aware of the outcome of the student’s assessment and they are encouraged to learn more about the student’s strengths and struggles, based on the FASD assessment. If the school has not received a copy of any reports, have a member of the school support team contact the caregivers/guardians.

Brain-based disability… A successful transition back to school is grounded in the understanding of FASD as a brain-based disability and reframing behavior as a way for the student to communicate their challenges in the school environment. The summary report is a great place to begin supporting the student through the lens of FASD. A composite report will be shared at a later date, containing detailed reports from the multi-disciplinary team on the student’s functioning.

THE STUDENT IS NOT DIAGNOSED WITH FASD

In cases where a student does not receive a diagnosis of FASD, schools can often be at a loss for what the next steps are. Due to the comprehensive nature of the FASD assessment process, the multi-disciplinary team also has the opportunity to determine if there are other possible areas of struggle for the student; for example, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), specific learning disorder, expressive or receptive language delay. The thorough assessment allows schools an opportunity to pursue appropriate coding for their students and access services which support the student to experience success in the school environment.

Clinic outcomes… The caregivers/guardians are typically provided with a clinic summary report (which includes recommendations) after attending the post-clinic conference on the second day of the FASD Clinic. Caregivers/guardians are able to share the summary report and the comprehensive report with school support teams and other service providers which can enable more informed support, in addition to a more detailed understanding of the student’s strengths and struggles. There is valuable information in the reports.

Ensure staff members are aware of the outcome of the student’s assessment, even when the student is not diagnosed with FASD. The assessment process has enabled the multi-disciplinary team an opportunity to learn more about the student’s individual strengths and challenges, identify other possible diagnoses, and ability to offer specific recommendations. If the school has not received a copy of any reports, have a member of the school support team contact the caregivers/guardians.

A successful transition back to school is grounded in the understanding that not all individual’s who are prenatally exposed to alcohol will meet the criteria for the diagnosis of FASD. If the student was not diagnosed with FASD, it is still important that the school support team learns the outcomes of the assessment to integrate into their program plan. The summary report is a great place to begin adjusting the support plan for the student. A composite report will be shared at a later date, containing detailed reports from the multi-disciplinary team on the student’s functioning.

AFTER CLINIC: SUPPORTING THE TRANSITION BACK TO SCHOOL

Once the outcome of the FASD assessment and diagnostic clinic is received, it is a good opportunity for the school to build a team of school professionals around the student and their family, if this hasn’t already occurred. Diagnosis of FASD can be very challenging and emotional for a family and their child. As part of the transition back to school after attending the FASD Clinic, it can be helpful for a designated person from the school support team to hold a meeting with school administration, school staff, district consultants, school support staff who work with the student, along with the family to discuss the results of the FASD assessment.

Collaboration and partnerships… Meeting as a collaborative group will help to create a plan for the student, in order to best support them at school. Exploring community resources with caregivers/guardians can also give the school support team an idea of what support with which the family may or may not already be connected. Through the creation of a school support teams, encouraging involvement of the family and the inclusion of community resources, schools are able to continue to support the well-being of their students through strong supportive relationships and partnerships. WRaP Success Coaches are great resources for schools during this transition time, in addition to the WRaP Transition Facilitator who serves the greater Edmonton area supporting transitions from the FASD Clinic at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital.

Get WRaP involved! The Wellness, Resiliency and Partnership (WRaP) project can be a valuable support when transitioning back to school. WRaP Success Coaches work as employees of school districts through the province of Alberta, and can often be found in at least two schools within their respective school district. WRaP Success Coaches enhance school engagement, increase academic success, and support social, emotional and physical well-being through providing mentoring supports to students and liaising between caregivers/guardians and schools, in addition to providing presentations and strategy support to school staff. Wondering how to get connected?

Is there a WRaP Success Coach working in my school district?



There isn’t a WRaP Success Coach in my school district, but our student attended the FASD Clinic at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital.



There isn’t a WRaP Success Coach in my school or school district, but I would like to learn more about the WRaP Project and how to get connected with a WRaP Success Coach.