You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2012.

With Halloween on our doorsteps, it is important to think about the sensory needs of children with FASD on this fun-filled holiday.

Children with FASD tend to have more sensory processing issues that typically developing children (1,2). This means that they have difficulty interpreting and reacting accordingly to sensory input from their environment (3). For example, sounds might seem too loud or too quiet, lights may seem too bright or too dim, and touch may feel too strong or too soft. These difficulties in processing sensory information can make it difficult for kids with FASD to respond in an adaptive way to their environments, and are associated with higher than average behaviour problems, such as acting out, social and attention problems, rule breaking, and thought problems (3,4).

Enter Halloween: A holiday with bright colours, yelling and screaming children, costumes that can be easy to trip over, hard to see through, and uncomfortable to wear, and ghosts and goblins waiting in nooks and crannies to jump out and spook you at any given time. All of these things can make what is supposed to be a fun-filled holiday a very difficult time for a child with FASD, potentially resulting in dysregulation and negative behaviour.

Research on FASD and sensory processing  recommends that children’s sensory processing difficulties be taken into account when considering a child with FASD’s needs (3,4). The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has listened! The AOTA has put out some great tips for “Enjoying Halloween with Sensory Issues.” They have some great ideas to prepare children with sensory processing difficulties to have a fun and happy Halloween.


1-Mattson, S. N., Goodman, A. M., Caine, C. D., Delis, D. C., & Riley, E. P. (1999). Executive functioning in children with heavy prenatal alcohol exposure. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 23, 1808–1815.

2-Mattson, S. N., & Riley, E. P. (1998). A review of the neurobehavioral deficits in children with fetal alcohol syndrome or prenatal exposure to alcohol. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 22, 279–294.

3-Franklin, L., Deitz, J., Jirikowic, T., & Astley, S. (2008). Children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: Problem behaviors and sensory processingAmerican Journal of Occupational Therapy, 62, 265–273.

4-Jirikowic, T. L., Olson, H. C., & Kartin, D. (2008). Sensory processing, school performance, and adaptive behavior of young school-aged children with fetal alcohol spectrum disordersPhysical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics, 2, 117-136.


“FASD Learning Series: Working with Women Who Have Addiction Issues”
When: October 24, 2012. 9-11 AM
Where: *This event is an online webcast. Available anywhere
Event Registration

“1st Annual MOFAS Statewide FASD Conference: Building Brighter Futures: Working Together to Create Change in Minnesota”
Prevention and treatment information about FASD
When: November 1-2, 2012
Where: Edina, Minnesota
Conference Brochure
Conference Registration

“3rd Health & Wellbeing in Children, Youth and Adults with Developmental Disabilities Conference: Challenging Behaviour- The Tip of the Iceberg.”
Presentations and workshops will discuss the behavioural, psychiatric, and complex health concerns as well as treatment options and practices in the field of developmental disabilities (including FASD)
When: November 15-16, 2012 (Focused workshops on November 17)
Where: Vancouver, BC
Conference Brochure
Conference Registration

“How to Maximize Outcomes for Individuals with an FASD.”
Donna Debolt, RSW  speaks about FASD: Disabilities  Presentation,  Diagnosis, Supports, Intervention, and more.
When: November 26-27, 2012
Where: Barrie, Ontario
Workshop Registration

Now that school has been back in for a month, kids are settling into routine and teachers have a clearer idea of where their needs lie. A teacher friend of mine was sharing her experience with me. She said that by this time of year she will usually have been able to spend one on one time with most of the kids to get a better idea of where they are at academically. This year in particular, almost half of her kids are below grade level in reading. A few of them are coded (i.e. they have a diagnosis of one thing or another and receive support) and a handful of them have behaviour difficulties and probably SHOULD be coded, but aren’t. She was concerned about the rest of  the year and wished she had more resources and supports at her disposal.

So after that conversation, I went home and started writing this blog post. Maybe there are some teachers out there that have a child or 2 with FASD in their classrooms and are struggling to find ways to support that child throughout the year. I thought I would put together a list of some of the teacher focused, academic based resources I’ve come across in the last year or so since this blog started. Of course, not everything works for every child, but this might be a good place to start!

If you are a teacher or you happen to know a teacher, please pass this along. Maybe there is something in these resources that all teachers can benefit from- even those who do not teach a child with FASD.

“POPFASD” is a fantastic resource for everything this post represents. It is a resource program from the BC Ministry of Education, aimed at educators working with students with FASD. Their wonderful collection of resources includes teacher resources, print resources, downloadable resources, and eLearning videos, all about FASD, all for educators.

Alberta Education Teacher Resources:
“Alberta Education” is the government of Alberta’s Ministry of Education, providing support to those involved with the school system from early education to grade 12. Their FASD teacher resources page contains some great publications to help teachers understand and teach students with FASD and other special needs.

Toolbox Parenting: Tips for Tough Kids:
Toolbox parenting is an informational site for families of individuals with special needs. Have a look around their site map. They provide some school based  ideas and resources (among other things), such as a “care kit” to educate others about the child’s needs, a “schools and special education guide” to aid parents with the education process, a “schools” section with some great information and suggestions for those involved in the child’s education.

Do2Learn Academics:
“Do2Learn” provides evidence based learning strategies for children with disorders that affect their learning and functioning. Their academics section has some great ideas for fine motor development, language development, visual discrimination, literacy, mathematics, learning strategies, and a “teacher toolbox” section.

Great Schools:
“Great schools” is a non-profit organization from the United States whose goal is to help parents support their child’s education. We liked their 8 summer reading activities for kids with learning disabilities– These can be done all year, not just in the summer!

Food for Thought:

Planning for school is great, but it’s also important to think ahead to the future. The folks at Online Education Database sent us this great list of 21 Critical Job Skills You Should Instil in Your Kid

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