Alaska Flowers

Fetal Alcohol Services of Alaska

Successful Intervention

8 Magic Keys:
Developing Successful Interventions for Students with FAS

by Deb Evensen and Jan Lutke
While there is no recommended "cookbook approach" to working with students with FAS, there are strategies that work, based on the following guidelines:

Graphic: Alaska Violet1. Concrete

Students with FAS do well when parents and educators talk in concrete terms, don’t use words with double meanings, idioms, etc. Because their social-emotional understanding is far below their chronological age, it helps to "think younger" when providing assistance, giving instructions, etc.

Graphic: Alaska Violet2. Consistency

Because of the difficulty students with FAS experience trying to generalize learning from one situation to another, they do best in an environment with few changes. This includes language. Teachers and parents can coordinate with each other to use the same words for key phases and oral directions.

Graphic: Alaska Violet3. Repetition

Students with FAS have chronic short term memory problems; they forget things they want to remember as well as information that has been learned and retained for a period of time. In order for something to make it to long term memory, it may simply need to be re-taught and re-taught.

Graphic: Alaska Violet4. Routine

Stable routines that don’t change from day to day will make it easier for students with FAS to know what to expect next and decrease their anxiety, enabling them to learn.

Graphic: Alaska Violet5. Simplicity

Remember to Keep it Short and Sweet (KISS method). Students with FAS are easily over-stimulated, leading to "shutdown" at which point no more information can be assimilated. Therefore, a simple environment is the foundation for an effective school program.

Graphic: Alaska Violet6. Specific

Say exactly what you mean. Remember that students with FAS have difficulty with abstractions, generalization, and not being able to "fill in the blanks" when given a direction. Tell them step by step what to do, developing appropriate habit patterns.

Graphic: Alaska Violet7. Structure

Structure is the "glue" that makes the world make sense for a student with FAS. If this glue is taken away, the walls fall down! A student with FAS achieves and is successful because their world provides the appropriate structure as a permanent foundation.

Graphic: Alaska Violet8. Supervision

Because of their cognitive challenges, students with FAS bring a naivete to daily life situations. They need constant supervision, as with much younger children, to develop habit patterns of appropriate behavior.

When a situation with a student with FAS is confusing and the intervention is not working, then:

developed by Deb Evensen and Jan Lutke 1997