By: Grace Protopapas, Kenora Online, 18 March 2014
Accessed on: 24 March 2014
Commentary by: Sarah Cibart
Given the FASD Research Project’s upcoming workshop on strategies for new outcomes, this article appropriately highlights a progressive initiative being taken to adapt the learning environment for children with FASD.
At Open Roads School in Dryden, ON a new adapted classroom setting hosts children with FASD of various ages and abilities. One unique feature of the “FASD room” is that it covers colourful and distracting display boards and keeps toys and games hidden to minimize unnecessary distractions for the students.
“…a big thing is [that] we provide a safe environment to build their self esteem” says teacher Chona Dufrense as she boasts the effectiveness of the adapted learning environment.
So far there are only four students enrolled in this program. The ultimate goal for these students, says Dufrense, is integration into a larger classroom setting. This process, she says, will be very different for each of them. Her focus is playing to each of their diverse strengths.
As awareness of FASD continues to grow in Saskatchewan, the idea of an adapted FASD classroom within our schools becomes more manageable. With high rewards such as building strength and confidence for youth living with FASD, as well as supporting educators who struggle to meet the diverse needs of FASD students in a non-adaptive setting, the pros of an “FASD classroom” seem to outweigh the cons. With this in mind, it may take time and work to ensure youth with FASD feel safe and accepted in a separate adapted learning setting, and that social inclusion remains an important goal of educators and mentors.