More Tips for Homeschooling a Student with FASD

If you didn’t read the first post about our current curriculum choices, read this post first.

Also, it might be relevant to note that while I had our son who is fetal alcohol affected in mind while writing, these tips are also useful for students with other developmental disabilities and special needs.

  1. Go for exposure not mastery. Mastery (especially of the abstract) can be elusive for kids who have prenatal alcohol exposure. We use a lot of memory work. Most days we hit mastery (mostly because it’s all to catchy tunes), but I stopped getting frustrated if we didn’t.
    Exposure not mastery. #specialneedseducation #keepyoursanity Click To Tweet
  2. The more concrete, the better. I’m a visual learner, so I always joke, “If I didn’t see it, it didn’t happen.” For our kiddo with FASD, if he doesn’t experience it, it doesn’t happen. Whether it’s a historical event or a math problem, if he can’t experience it was all 5 of his senses, he’s lost. Similarly, if I can’t find a way to make it concrete, I definitely rely highly on #1 or just skip it all together.
    The more concrete the better. #specialneedseducation #fasd Click To Tweet
  3. Think outside the box. You’re homeschooling for goodness sakes! Take advantage of it. Maybe you just take field trips all year and creatively match them all to core subjects for your review. Depending on your state’s review requirements, this may be easier said than done. If you live in a state with heavy overview, get an IEP or ask for your child to be placed on a non-diploma track so you don’t have the pressure to jump through all the academic hoops that will probably end up crushing your child’s self-confidence and driving you batty.
    Think outside the box. #specialneedseducation #fasd #fieldtrips Click To Tweet
  4. Keep the end in mind. Think about what life skills your child will need to live as independently as possible. If you’re trying to teach something that doesn’t contribute to those life skills, refer to #1 or skip it entirely. Memorization of math facts? Really not necessary in real life. Everyone has a calculator on their phone. Knowing how to identify which key will unlock your front door, and then actually being able to use that key consistently. That’s worth spending some time on.
    Keep the end in mind. #specialneedseducation #fasd #lifeskills Click To Tweet
  5. Visuals and routine are your friends. We pretty much have the same routine every week with memory work, presentation, and spelling lists. It’s been the same routine for quite a few years. Tweaking it can be painful. As I’m writing this, I’m reminding myself how many weeks and years it took for this routine to actually be routine. I need to extrapolate this to how long I expect it to take for him to assimilate to other routines. <sigh> We started putting visual reminders up around our house this summer. A 5-step poster of what to do when I say, “Get ready to go.” Four cards on the bathroom mirror that remind him how to appropriately brush his teeth. A list of instructions of what he’s to do when he enters his Language Arts class at community (he’s in a new level this year.) He doesn’t always follow them to a “t” because…well, you know…FASD, but they are helping my sanity.
    Visuals and routine are your friends. #specialneedseducation #fasd Click To Tweet

If you’re in special needs education or homeschooling a child with special needs (maybe even FASD), I’d love your additions to the list!

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