Article: FASD Teens in the Classroom: Basic Strategies
Author: Lisa Harpur
Lisa Harpur’s article on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) teenagers, FASD Teens in the Classroom: Basic Strategies, contains substantial and valuable information. Along with a very clear writing style and nice detail Harpur has provided several very good points, and I would recommend this article as one to bookmark and read when you have a teenager in your classroom or school with FASD. Given the amount of content in the article I have chosen two points, which struck me as especially relevant for FASD teenagers and felt connected with one another.
First, FASD teenagers are described as complex and especially so because of the stage in life they are at; the teenage years where behaviour, development, independence versus dependence are tested and social dynamics play a large role, were all examples provided in the article (Harpur, 2001). Given the added stressors of teenage life Harpur (2001) stated there is a greater potential for anxiety, depression, lowered-self esteem, being used by peers, issues managing emotions and alcohol and drug use concerns. Harpur (2001) expressed that these added stressors were just as damaging to an FASD teenager as the initial concerns of academic growth. The teenage years can act as a cover, hiding the stressors because of their stage of life and what would be typical teenage behaviours and life circumstances (Harpur, 2001). Yet these stressors in FASD teenagers can lead to added concerns and problems. I found this awareness to be very important to note because it highlights the many concerns and cause and affect issues, which FASD teenagers experience above and beyond those concerns that non-FASD teenagers experience.
The second point, I wanted to include here, was an observation strategy. Among the strategies listed in the article, Harpur (2001) noted the importance of communicating with the students and discussing their awareness, insights into themselves and their learning. Given that verbal communication, which is clear and articulated can be a challenge for FASD learners, Harpur (2001) stressed the importance of teachers taking time to observe non-verbal clues such as, looking about the room, becoming angry or tossing papers around. Through making observations the teacher can learn about the FASD student’s possible anxieties, desires, what agitates them and their needs (Harpur, 2001). Through information gained in observation it can become easier to learn what motivates the student (Harpur, 2001). I felt Harpur’s suggested strategy of observation was linked to recognizing the anxieties and stressors FASD teenagers can be experiencing because it calls on the teacher to make note of the student’s behaviours and given that teenagers, and especially FASD teenagers, may not be able to fully articulate their feelings or reasoning, keen observation can become a very valuable strategy in gaining much needed information.
Harpur, Lisa. (2001). FASD teens in the classroom: basic strategies. Guidance & Counseling, vol. 17, issue 1,
24-29. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy.queensu.ca/login.aspx?
Ms. Kolshuk's Blog
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