Monday, December 12, 2011

Reflection #10

Children with FASD can be taught academics, social skills and daily living skills so that they can be successful in life. Properly trained teachers and informed parents are key to the students success in these areas. Children with FASD who are fortunate enough to have the stability of a supporting family and community are probably the most likely to do well in these areas and continue on in a healthy lifestyle.

There are many ways that a teacher is crucial for helping a child with FASD in learning skills and becoming the best they can be. Teachers can make anything be a learning opportunity and with FASD children, sometimes the simplest things are very important. It is important to be consistent and remember to not expect too much too fast. There are many skills that can be taught to teach and instill good study habits, such as: visual aids, color-coding, repetition, flashcards and note-taking, just to name a few.

It is a very important time for students as they enter higher grades and eventually look at transitioning out of school altogether. Daily living skills are crucial for students to learn. Learning how to care for themselves, looking after the house, and advocating for themselves are a few areas that need to be taught well in advance of a student graduating from high school. If they don’t have the skills and people to help them, like a parent or good friend, they could really have a difficult time.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Reflection Ten

Reflection Ten

Thinking about these children and the special people that have to be a part of their learning experiences; taking the time to learn the best techniques to modify suitable teachings. The rates of FASD in Alaska are so high; a class on FASD for teachers should be mandatory not only in Alaska but everywhere. To me it seems that there is not enough awareness surrounding the facts of FASD in our school systems so a lot of these children are not graduating and are being left behind. If we could find out how many high school drop outs may have FASD and take a look at this we might have more kids graduating successfully.

Allowing these children to work at their own pace and accommodating their disabilities is going to help them excel and become more confident. The way things are in the world today with politics this may only be a dream and never a reality; class rooms may never be able to meet their needs. Not just children with FASD but any child with learning disabilities. These children need good strong advocates present in their lives to make sure they are not overlooked or left behind because of break downs in systems.

Learning better social skills for children with FASD seems like a lifelong process; something that may be easier for other children is extremely difficult for children with FASD. Not being able to maintain relationships with their peers and family members most likely has a very negative effect on their self-esteem and may increase feelings of abandonment and anxiety. Viewing the world from the eyes of a child with FASD has helped me feel more compassion and understanding of the struggles and feelings of defeat they may experience throughout their lives. I would hope that through education and awareness that more people will be able to step outside of themselves and wholeheartedly try to help these children.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Reflection #8

Visual supports are a much needed piece of and environment for a child with FASD. More and more visual supports are being integrated into daily curriculum for any child with a disability. The written word is needed to be individual friendly and easily understood, if not, the child is likely to to get frustrated and not stay on task.

I see a difference with the youth and young teenagers that have visual supports in the classroom and the home. Using a picture to explain a task is quick for the child to understand and used by more if not all children. I have attended many forums that repeat the same ideas involving structures and supports no matter what the disability.

By integrating these simple and friendly supports there will be less children not understanding. I also feel if we as parents and educators take it one step further by educating our children as to why these things work, they will feel respected and more receptive to trying new things. I have always believed in teaching expectations and reducing room for failure. I also believe our children will excel when it comes time to educating their own children by sharing what worked for them when they had experienced difficulties.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Reflection #10

One thing that I would like to focus on is "chunking". How true it is that children with FASD need repetition. If you notice that the child or adult is saying yes a lot or uh-huhs, they may not understand what is being said and just agreeing to see if they can figure it out later.

Many times I have been working with the youth and adults and have asked a simple saying like, Hello, how are you today? Instead of them replying okay or not too good, I hear uh-huhs. When I slow down and focus on saying hello first, I get a response of hi or hello. When I move on to asking them how they are, I can wait for about 40 seconds; which gives them time to understand what I am asking and time to give me their answer.

By giving a person with FASD that extra time to process what is being said they feel respected, as well as heard and understood. I would love to see everyone slow down and take their time to communicate with each other, instead of always being in a hurry. Today people are in such a hurry they don't even take the time to call or talk to each other, instead they "text" each other. I guess that is a form of "chuncking" but one that I am resistant to learning.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Reflection 9

Have you ever walked into a room and had to ask yourself why am I here? You can’t remember why so you walk out of the room and then back in trying to jog your memory. We try to remember people’s names, directions or detailed instructions and this can be a challenge for anyone. The way our memory works begins with our body using our senses to absorb information. We store that information and retain it as short or long term memories which we use to retrieve or recall the information and experiences. Memory processing is a neurological function that does not work well in children with FASD.

Since all of this information is new to me I’ve done a lot of thinking about the challenges faced by children and families with FASD. I am learning about this disorder specifically for my grandson so I can have the tools I need to teach him. When I try to understand the effects of his permanent brain damage I must accept that he has limits to how well he can process information. Strategies for memory enhancement encourage parents/teachers to allow the child the freedom to move about to explore and be creative in music and in life. Research shows that all children learn more easily if the lesson is fun and stress free then the child will more readily remember the routines, rules, lessons, etc.

In doing some research I’ve found that the number one way that a child with FASD learns is by imitating the behaviors or actions of others. So it’s extremely important that we are good role models to our children. It’s also important that we keep close tabs on our kids friends at school and after school and make sure that they are good role models too. We must remember that every experience we have with a child can be a learning experience for them. What will your child remember about his/her experience with you? This question helps me watch what I do and say around my grandson and be aware that he watches me and learns from me both the bad and the good.

Reflection #9

FASD has another affect on the brain and that is in memory. As if the student and teacher didn't have enough challenges, the fact that FASD hinders memory can be another challenging issue. But there are ways in which the teacher can help the student learn methods to store the wanted information in the brain where it can be recalled.

The FASD student may have difficulty with remembering to complete and turn in homework, arrive to school on-time and applying what was known before to a future situation. Again we have to go back to the structure and routine of the classroom. This is important to help the student remember what to expect.

Additionally, use of visual aids or using songs to help remember are useful ways to teach memory skills. In fact, the use of songs are not only useful for memory but can dictate what the next activity will be. The "Clean Up, Clean Up, Everybody Clean Up" seems to be used nearly everywhere in America to get small children to help clean up their mess and at the same time makes it a fun activity for them. Chunking is another form of memory building by breaking things up into manageable sizes. For example, remembering a long phone number would be easier to learn with chunking.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Reflection 9

One thing that I found important, and what I learned was that we are really trying to not let the student with FASD have unnecessary frustration and stress. I always thought of it as the FASD student as just not understanding, and not looking at it as extra stress on them. It is almost unfair for them to go through these types of problems because it is so simple and easy for people without FASD to understand. It encoraged me to work with FASD students to help them learn and understand with out that extra stress and fustration.
I also learned that we are working towards FASD students to have a constant level of performance. It seemed to me that no matter what the student is always going to have a different outcome every day with the same activities. What was discribed in this section was that if you keep the same language and present the same way constantly, that it is possbile for the student to keep a constant level of performance. I found that great.
Talking about using the same language, I never thought of having the parent, teacher and others working with the FASD student to use the same language and communicate with each other so the student will not be confused so much. I always thought that each person working with the FASD student would always have a different way with working with the child, but I guess that would be too much for the individual to handle.
It was interesting to me when it mentioned to list all 26 letters of the alphabet before trying to teach the student the first three letters. I guess I thought it would be easier to work with the first three, then move on to the next ones till all 26 were taught. It taught me to allow the student to visually see how many letters there are to learn, then start little by little. That was very helpful to learn.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Reflection 8

Concrete language identifies things using your senses, touch, smell, sight, hearing, and taste and abstract language refers to things which are perceived not through the senses but by the mind. Realizing how children with FASD process data gives us an understanding how their mind works and how parents or teachers should speak and teach both using concrete language. I didn’t realize that much of our language is actually abstract so we have to transition the abstract language to concrete language so children with FASD can comprehend. A good example which combined concrete language and technology is the computer based IBM Write to Read Class I previously taught to Preschoolers and Kindergarten students we used the senses along with the letters to teach children how to read.

I did some research after reading this chapter on how I would for example teach math to a special needs or FASD child and I learned about teaching through a concrete-to-representational-to-abstract sequence of instruction. With this type of teaching students who have math learning problems are first allowed to develop a concrete understanding of the math concept or skill then they are more likely to perform that math skill and truly understand the math concept at the abstract level. Picturing in my mind how I would go about doing this would be to use concrete objects or pictures to solve a math problem. Once they grasp the concrete concept then use numbers and math symbols to transition to the abstract.

The CRA instructional sequence consists of three stages: concrete, representation, and abstract. Learning to Read can be taught using this method of instruction as well. First we can use concrete objects like blocks or other materials to teach letters. To transition into a representational or semi-concrete level we can draw pictures to represent the letter. Next to teach the abstract we can model the letter at a symbolic level like for the letter a you can draw the letter and an apple putting the letter together with the picture. In this age of technology there are many computer based instructional programs and videos which provide visual aids using concrete language for teaching math, reading, social, life and other concepts. For example there are cooking videos which walk you step by step through a recipe which provides a visual aid with a hands on learning experience.

Reflection #8

People use both abstract and concrete language everyday. Some people think and speak more in either the abstract or concrete but they can understand both. A person with FASD may speak to some degree in the abstract but they think and interpret concrete concepts.

This fact, that people with FASD, work in concrete terms affects the way that they have to be taught. In the school, teachers will find that visual aids will help in learning. Also, communication will be clearer through visual aids. This is sensible and helps remind anyone working with the student to use this direct approach.

Its interesting that people with FASD would use abstract words in their speaking since they are unlikely to understand those words. This is a result of language acquisition and not suggestive of learning abstract thought. This concept is one of most important facts about working with people with FASD. If a worker/family member/teacher understands this fact then it can ease a lot of frustration for both parties as they learn to "show and tell" in the concrete.

Reflection 8

The first thing that I learned from reading this section of the book was that individuals with FASD have a difficult time with abstract thinking. I never thought that is would be one of the main problems that individuals with FASD would have. I would have thought that it was to difficult to figure out what really FASD people have problems with. It was nice to put it in perspective, knowing that they have a hard time with abstract thinking.
Another thing that I learned and found interesting was that FASD individuals can talk the talk, but at some times can not walk the walk. Those individuals say things that make other believe they know what they are talking about, but in reality they do not. It was nice to think of talking to an FASD individual as if they were very young. And to not give too many choices for them to choose from, and to be very directive.
I have heard of the program OSX. Mainly thought it was for individuals that can not see. I never really would have thought that it can be for individuals with FASD. I would also see very young children using such things as programs from OSX, just to assist them a little bit. I liked the idea of using technology for individuals with FASD.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Reflection Nine

Reflection Nine

This element made me think about how children with FASD most likely feel defeated in a lot of areas in their life; especially school work. This has to result in feelings of extreme frustration and anxiety. How are people going to be able to figure out how well these kids are able to function unless they are experts in neurology? It would take a long time for someone to assess these children in order to provide the best possible care, reviewing assessments is very time consuming. The very few people that do take the time and have a sincere interest are going to help these children through investment and time.

With memory deficit; this has to affect all areas of their life including continued consequences and not being able to figure out why. FASD children must question themselves over and over as to why they keep doing what they are doing. When people ask them “why” and they respond “I don’t know” they really truly don’t know. Through routine and structure they do have a better chance of becoming more successful although patience is vital in helping them work through their struggles with this disability. This is a deficit that will have a negative effect on them throughout their lives.

Children with FASD can learn to be very good communicators just through their experiences in working with people who have worked with them appropriately. With all of the gestures and visual aids they experienced that helped them; FASD children would be great in working with other younger children with FASD. This would also give them a sense of confidence and importance. FASD children would be the best teachers for other children and they would also be a lot more compassionate because they share similar disabilities.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Reflection 10


The last three chapters in Essential Elements brought everything together and gave me good ideas. I know have a better understanding of both the academic and social struggles that a child with FAS deals with. Knowing these struggles do not end when they reach adulthood, we need to provide them with long-term support in order for them to continue to function at their best. We can’t just get them through childhood and set them loose without something in place for them. This lesson has made me start thinking of what supports we have in place and what supports are needed.

 Their inability to learn social skills may cause these children to act inappropriately which can make them a target for ridicule. It also stops them from forming the bonds of friendships that other children enjoy. Without appropriate help and support these children can end up leading a very lonely life. Society must never give up hope on these children.

One thing that greatly impacted me was the talk of success. Society has norms that are widely accepted and if you fail to meet these you are not deemed successful. When I think of redefining success and putting it on a personal individual level I get very excited. By measuring success this way, everyone is able to see they are a success and there is value in who they are. This is a concept that not only benefits those who have FAS it benefits everyone who is just outside the norm whether from a disability or a chosen life. I greatly believe that everyone has value and can be a success.  

Reflection 7

The physical abnormalities of children with FASD vary from child to child depending on the amount of alcohol consumed at which stage in fetal development. These abnormalities can range from slight to severe with various dysfunctions and physical, mental, behavioral, and learning disabilities. They may have hearing abnormalities which can cause communication problems sometimes requiring a hearing aid to counteract hearing loss. Children with FASD suffer from frequent ear infections and have a high rate of hearing loss specifically eighth nerve deafness which is due to lesions of the cochlea and the auditory division of the eighth cranial nerve. Understanding that auditory distractions do affect focus and the child’s learning process allows the teacher to make specific classroom accommodations.

Children with FASD also may have malformed major organs to include the heart, kidneys, ears and eyes. These vision problems can include an eye that turns in or a lazy eye. Some vision problems can be corrected with glasses and some can’t so some children may need books with larger print for example. They may also be born with short palpebral fissures or smaller eye openings. Their eyes may also be sensitive to bright lights which can prove to be a distraction. A child’s curriculum may need to be centered around his or her learning ability and his or her ability to see.

Immune system problems or abnormalities can cause the child to be sick often and with missing school comes a disruption in their learning process most often requiring repetitive instruction. FASD is more than just brain damage prenatal alcohol exposure has damaged not only the brain but the digestive tract as well. Children often show serious problems with digestion including gastric reflux, stomach pains, abdominal bloating after meals, diarrhea, and steatorrhea, which is fatty floating stools due to poor absorption of fat from food. Vitamin deficiency due to poor absorption of nutrients may require vitamin supplementation. These children may have problems with sucking, chewing, and swallowing so it’s important to make their food easily digestible. Blood or skin tests may need to be given to identify food allergies and diets may need to be changed accordingly based upon the results. Digestive health and the immune system are linked since 70% of the body’s immune system dwells in the digestive tract so maintaining digestive health is important to the body’s overall health.