Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder(FASD)

Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) can be understood as a range of congenital birth abnormalities along a spectrum, caused by prenatal alcohol exposure (Carpenter, 2011). Further, Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder  has been described as the “Hidden Disability”, due to physical characteristics not always being present (Millar et al, 2014:3). Throughout pregnancy the central nervous system of the foetus, is extremely sensitive to the teratogenic effects of alcohol. If a foetus have exposure to alcohol there can be major implications on the wellbeing of the baby (Guerri et al, 2009). Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) can be the most identifiable within the spectrum of disorders, as individuals with FAS hold distinctive facial abnormalities such as thin upper lip, epicanthal folds, indistinct philtrum and flat nasal bridge (Blackburn and Whitehurst, 2010:124). FASD is now one of the largest most ubiquitous, non-genetic and preventable classification of disability (May & Gossage, 2001).

Major lifelong implications of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder can lead to major lifelong implications on the cognitive, emotional and social domains of an individual (NOFASD, 2020). In relation to this, Gibbard et al (2003) and Kodituwakku (2001) have shown primary FASD constitutional deficits in cognition through neuropsychological research. The research showed difficulties in executive functioning and lack of conceptualisation of cause and effect. Moreover, pupils with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder may show poor academic achievement throughout core subjects within the curriculum. This is supported by Kopera-Frye et al (1996), where they explain why children with FASD may find Mathematics challenging. This is due to the parietal lobe, which control numeracy and computational activity, having insufficient brain function. Lastly, it can majorly impact the memory. This can lead to children confusing reality and fictional events (Greenbaum et al, 2009).

Prevalence rate estimation

Popova et al (2016) estimate a prevalence rate of up to 5 in every 100 births on a global scale. However, there is an unknown nature surrounding prevalence rates. This is linked with lack of knowledge combined with the hiddenness of the condition. This place children with FASD at a major disadvantage. Additionally, in the UK there are no accurate prevalence figures for FASD. Thus, there is a gap in reliable and consistent data on FASD incidence within the UK. Consequently, BMA (2020) state it is vital that awareness of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in the UK is raising among the relevant fields. Within the educational sector, there has been very little systematic research on the needs of children with FASD. It provides a base for developing effective strategies and interventions within the primary classroom (Ryan and Ferguson, 2006).

Strategies for Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Early identification is a key message from the Scottish Government as a strategy for Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. In recent years, NHS Ayrshire & Arran received funding from the Scottish Government, which allowed the creation of an assessment clinic, to provide diagnostic support to children and families with concerns of FASD (Brown et al, 2018). Additionally, the Scottish Government stands by the statement ‘No alcohol, no risk’. This is, Scottish government should avail part of toolkit for the Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder to the general public (Scottish Government, 2013:4). The Scottish Government believes in effective partnership and collaboration between schools and families. That is, as a way to support learners with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Congruently, parents and guardians are core members of the school community. They should have the opportunity of being active contributors in creating efficacious educational plans for their child (NHSAAA, 2019).

Effects of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder on learners

Learners with FASD may show lack of confidence and have a damaged conceptualization of ability, which impacts academic performance. Therefore, it is important for educators to implement positive and nurturing teaching and learning strategies. These strategies help to transform and boost self-actualization (Education Scotland, 2020). The Scottish Government outlines 3 areas to creating resilient children. They link in educating learners with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. That is, a secure base, self-esteem and self-efficacy (Scottish Government, 2012:22). Lastly, they should reflect standards such as SPR 2.1.2 , ‘understanding how to match the level of curricular areas to the needs of all learners’ (GTCS, 2012:7). They are able to evaluate the impact we place on learning through applied policy and pedagogical practices. Teachers adapt approaches accordingly as they grow their own professional values and beliefs.

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