in the School System
FASD is not a well-known disability. Advocating on behalf of individuals who live with FASD may be necessary for a higher quality of life. However, navigating complicated systems such as the educational system can be difficult. As a new school year starts here’s some quick tips to keep in mind:
- Consider disclosing your child’s disability to the people who need to know.
- A diagnosis can be helpful in accessing supports but it should not be necessary for all supports. Listed on the Ministry of Education website is a form about ‘Intensive Supports Categories.’ It indicates that documentation of prenatal exposure to drugs (i.e. alcohol) identifies a student as requiring intensive supports.
- Be informed – educating others about the disability is the first step in advocacy so brush up on your knowledge of FASD.
- Start immediately – it might take all year to get supports in place so starting as soon as possible can be very valuable
- Keep records – Documentation will help you remember who you have spoken with and what was advocated for or discussed. Also, recording strategies that work and those that do not, and potential triggers is helpful.
- Gain the support of others – having support can help you keep your strength while advocating. The FASD Network and other community organizations can actively help you navigate the school system.
- Maintain constant and open communication with the teachers and support staff
- Don’t be afraid to make waves. You may encounter some professionals who are unaware of FASD or believe in stereotypes about the disability but it is important to remember that you know your child, you are the expert on their abilities and their needs.
- It is also important to keep in mind that teachers and staff may be doing the best they can with the limited resources they have. Work together to come up with creative solutions.
- Never stop talking and advocating. This may feel frustrating at times but it will help make sure your child (and any other children living with FASD) is not left behind.
More information on advocating in schools and other systems can be read in our caregiver-created resource, “Advocacy: Successes and Struggles.”
If you need assistance advocating for your child, contact the FASD Network. For families located within 50 km of Saskatoon we can directly assist you with advocating in school. Anyone outside of the Saskatoon area seeking assistance with advocating can call our toll-free line (1-866-673-3276). We can provide advice for your specific situation.