Sensory Difficulties

 

Children with FASD may have problems processing sensory information. A child might be overly stimulated by their environment (hypersensitive) or under-stimulated (hyposensitive). It is possible for someone with FASD to be more or less sensitive to stimulus than normally developing person. The stimuli may include temperatures, smells, sounds, colours or patterns, textured clothing, or touching. It is possible for a child with FASD to be hypersensitive in one area and hyposensitive in another area. For a hypersensitive child, things like a tag on clothing, bright lights, or a pat on the back might feel like too much stimulation. A hyposensitive child might have a very high pain threshold or a pat on the back might feel like a light tap.

This can have an effect on a child’s adaptive functioning and their ability to focus, remain regulated, and succeed academically. For example, after the correct intervention, a child might no longer be bothered by noises, lights, the feeling of the seat of their desk etc., therefore they will have an easier time concentrating and behaving in school. On the other hand, a child that is hyposensitive may have low arousal and may need extra stimulation to stay alert. After implementing the appropriate interventions, a hyposensitive child may perform better at tasks such as buttoning up a shirt or holding a pencil. This could help the child not hold the pencil too tightly or push too hard when writing because they cannot properly feel the objects between their fingers.

RESOURCES

Explaining Sensory Regulation in Layman’s Terms
Document from Kim Barthel describing sensory regulation in simple terms

Environment: Working with Learners with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Brochure: Reducing student sensory overload by creating a structured environment (from POPFASD)

Reach to Teach: Educating Elementary and Middle School Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
FASD overview and strategies for improving school success– reviews FASD, cognitive challenges, social skills, negative behaviours, environmental accommodation (from SAMHSA)
Information on sensory difficulties: pp. 27-28

Understanding Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD): A Comprehensive Guide For Pre-K -8 Educators
FASD overview, teaching and learning strategies for the classroom (from BC Ministry of Special Education)
Sensory difficulties (environmental accommodations): pp. 33-35

What Educators Need to Know about FASD: Working Together to Educate Children in Manitoba with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
FASD overview; common characteristics of FASD; strategies for teachers and parents to assist in meeting the needs of children (from Healthy Child Manitoba)
Sensory Difficulties: pp. 13-19

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Educational Strategies
Teaching strategies from NOFAS and University of South Dakota; contents include environmental modification, functional assessment, communication, executive function, social skills and behaviour. Resource listings in appendices include: general FASD information, teaching, social emotional books for children, social emotional books for young adults, audiovisual resources and websites
Sensory difficulties (environmental modifications- Decreasing auditory and visual distractions): Section 4, pp.27-36

Environment: Strategies for managing classroom environment
Video with strategies and suggestions to support learning through a structured classroom environment. Contains ideas to support individuals with sensory diffiuclties (from POPFASD)

Making a Difference: Working with Students who have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
Comprehensive guide- How to adapt teaching methods to help students affected by FASD in the classroom environment. Includes information on FASD, structure, behaviour, sensory difficulties, language, academics, social skills, and transitions (from Yukon Deartment of Education)
Sensory information beginning in section 7

Teaching Students with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: Building Strengths, Creating Hope (Programming for Students with Special Needs: Book 10)
Overview of FASD; Concepts for teaching and strategies to help with learning needs (from Alberta Education)
Sensory processing information and strategies: pp. 73-77

Sensory Integration: Tips to Consider
Possible signs of a child being overloaded with sensory stimulus (from Indiana University Bloomington)

LINKS

The Alert Program

A program for teaching self regulation to children with disabilities

10 Tips for Dressing a Sensory Sensitive Child
Dressing tips for hypersensitive children from Friendship Circle Blog