School Accomodations for Students Diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders as a group of conditions that can occur in a person whose mother drank during pregnancy. The effects of the fetal alcohol disorders includes many learning challenges including hyperactivity, poor attention span, memory issues, coordination challenges, anxiety, speech and language delays, problem-solving issues, difficulty staying on task, behavioral challenges and social interaction.

Some children with FASD have co-occurring disorders or are often mis-diagnosed.

The following are the most common disorders:

  • Oppositional Defiant Disorders (ODD)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactive/Inattentive Disorder (ADHD)
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Speech and language delays
  • Anti-Social Personality Disorder

The following are Accommodations that will help students succeed:

  • Use a multi-sensory approach to learning
  • Allow extra time for testing assessments
  • Chunk the test into parts
  • Reduce distractions by using preferential seating
  • Allow the student to take breaks
  • Use oral test
  • Provide oral instructions
  • Use a checklist for the student to use
  • Allow the student to use a timer
  • Use repetition
  • Check in with the students for understanding and provide feedback
  • Teach calming strategies
  • Use assistive technology
  • Use social stories
  • Teach social skills

Williams Syndrome and Teaching Strategies

Williams Syndrome also known as Williams-Beuren syndrome was discovered in 1961 by J.C.P. Williams, a Cardiologist from New Zealand. Williams Syndrome is a rare disorder with a prevalence of in 7,500 to 20,000 caused by the deletion of genetic material from chromosome 7. Williams syndrome symptoms include heart problems, low birth weight, l problems and developmental delays. 75 are diagnosed with mile to moderate intellectual disabilities or a learning disability.

Click here to download PDF article

Physical characteristics include:

Musculoskeletal

Almond shape eyes

Broad forehead

long neck

Longer upper lip

Puffiness around the eyes

sloping shoulders

Small chin

Small upturned nose

Wide mouth

Learning Characteristics

  • ADHD
  • Enjoys music
  • Developmental delay
  • Excellent long-term memory
  • Learning disability
  • Poor fine motor skills
  • Seizures
  • Tactile defensiveness

Teaching Strategies

Students with Mild intellectual disabilities will have difficulty with abstract thinking, executive functioning including planning, prioritizing, and cognitive flexibility. According to the Williams Syndrome Association Website, Children with Williams Syndrome face challenges with processing non-verbal information and displays difficulty with attention to detail.

Strategies should include:

  • Using short sentences
  • Repeat directions
  • Break task into small steps
  • Use concrete examples when introducing new words or concepts.
  • Teach one concept at a time
  • Use a multisensory approach which will help to stimulate learning
  • Utilize visual learning style including the use of flash cars, pictures, images, handouts and colors.

Reference

Williams Syndrome Association

Teaching Students with Angelman Syndrome

Angelman Syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects the nervous system, characteristics that include developmental delays, intellectual disability, and speech impairments. Angelman syndrome generally go unnoticed until the age of 1 year. Children typically have a happy demeanor and have a fascination with water

Symptoms
  • developmental delay
  • intellectual disability
  • epilepsy
  • microcephaly
  • short attention span
  • happy demeanor
  • hyperactivity
  • hand-flapping
Associated Behaviors
  • tongue thrusting
  • feeding problems during infancy
  • sensitivity to heat
  • frequent drooling
  • attraction to water
Prevalence

Angelman Syndrome  is  a rare disorder and affects 1 in 12,000 to 20,000 a year. Equally to less than 200,000 case a year. Affects all ethnicities and sexes equally.

Angelman Syndrome-Bridges for Kids

Angelman Syndrome Educational Material

Angelman Syndrome– Ontario Teachers Federation

Angelman Syndrome– National Association of Special Educators

Angelman Syndrome in the Classroom- Puzzle Place

Communication strategies for children with Angelman Syndrome– Cleveland Clinic

Education Resources- Angelman Resources

Some Angelman Tips– Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs

Working with a child who has Angelman Syndrome– St. Cloud State University

Writing instruction for students with Angelman Syndrome– PracticalAAC

What is Lowe Syndrome?

Lowe Syndrome also known as Oculocerebrorenal Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that affects the eyes, brain and kidneys. It has a prevalence of 1 in 500,000 and mainly affects males.

Click here to download PDF version

Signs and Symptoms
  • Congenital cataracts
  • eye abnormalities and eye disease
  • glaucoma
  • kidney abnormalities (Renal Fanconi Syndrome)
  • dehydration
  • abnormal acidic blood
  • progressive kidney problems
  • feeding problems
  • bone abnormalities
  • scoliosis
  • weak or low muscle tone (hypotonia)
  • joint problems
  • developmental delays including motor skills
  • short stature
  • intellectual disability
  • seizure
  • behavioral issues

Children and adults diagnosed with children and adults may also show the following signs and symptoms due to an intellectual disability:

  • decrease learning ability
  • delays in crawling
  • delays in sitting up
  • difficulty solving problems
  • lack of curiosity
  • language and speech delays
  • poor memory
  • behavior problems
Teaching Strategies

The following strategies will help when teaching a child or an adult diagnosed with Lowe Syndrome:

  • Use short and simple sentences to ensure understanding
  • Repeat directions
  • Teach specific skills when possible
  • Use strategies such as chunking, backwards shaping, forward shaping and role modeling.
  • Use concrete information
  • Provide immediate feedback

Image thanks to Robert Thomson on Flickr.com (creative commons)

Resources

National Organization for Rare Disorders

Genetics Home Reference

Dove Med

Wikipedia

Teaching Strategies For Students With A Nonverbal Learning Disorder

Nonverbal Learning Disorder is a disorder you may or nay not heard of. It shares similar characteristics to autism such as the challenge in reading body language but is also quite different. By learning the signs and symptoms of nonverbal learning disorder, the better chance you have in using effective teaching strategies.

Nonverbal learning disorder is defines as a person who has difficulty in interpreting and understanding non verbal cues in the environment If 93% of how we communicate is nonverbal, a person with nonverbal learning disorder is only getting 7% of daily communication.

Dr. Byron P. Rouke of the University of Windsor developed the following criteria to assess nonverbal learning disorder:

  1. Perceptual deficits usually on the left side of the body. The child has difficulty understanding or perceiving information through the skin of both hands but the left hand has more difficulty than the right.
  2. Tends to be clumsy
  3. Difficulty with visual-spatial organizational skills. Finds it difficult to organize notes.
  4. Difficulty when encountering new information.
  5. Difficulty in knowing what is expected of you and hard to see the bigger picture
  6. Distort sense of time. Time is abstract and non-linear
  7. Well-developed, rote and verbal capacity
  8. Repetitive way of speaking
Signs and Symptoms
  • Excellent vocabulary and verbal expression
  • Excellent memory skills
  • unable to see the bigger picture
  • Poor motor and coordination skills
  • Difficulty with reading
  • Difficulty with math reading problems
  • Fear of new situations
  • May have symptoms of anxiety, depression
  • Misreads body language
  • Well-developed vocabulary
  • Better auditory processing skills than visual processing skills
  • Focus on details

Teaching Strategies For Parents and Teachers
  • Give assignments in chunks
  • Give constructive feedback
  • Create a daily class routine and stick to them
  • Write the class schedule on the board
  • Provide several verbal cues before transition
  • Give the student time to preview and prepare for new activities such as group projects
  • Minimize transitions
  • Offer added verbal explanations when the student or child seems confused
  • Teach in sequential steps
References

Rondalyn Varney Whitney/OTR, Nonverbal learning disorder: Understanding and coping with NLD and Aspergers: What parents and teachers need to know (2008)

Woliver, Robbie (2008) Alphabet Kids: From ADD to Zellwer Syndrome.

Learning Disabilities of America

Understood

Epilepsy and Autism: What You Need To Know

Studies show that epilepsy are more common in individuals with autism than the general population. Studies show that in some cases, 20% of people diagnosed with autism also have an epilepsy disorder. Other studies indicate epilepsy prevalence estimates between 5% to 46%.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts social, speech, behavioral and motor skills. It is a spectrum disorder meaning it varies from person to person. No two people have the same symptoms. It is estimated that 1% of the population is diagnosed with autism.

Epilepsy is a brain disorder which occurs when neurons in the brain experience a brief interruption causing a seizure to occur. Seizures vary from mild to severe and affects over 3 million Americans. There are different types of seizures:

  • Generalized Tonic/Clonic- A seizures where the whole brain is affected.
  • Absence Seizures- Generally start without any warnings. It affects children and last only for a few seconds.
  • Myoclonic Seizures- Are abrupt jerks of the muscle groups which originate from the spine.
  • Partial Seizures- The person may look as though he or she is in a trance.

There are many unanswered questions as to why epilepsy is more common in people with autism. There is some evidence the common underlying cause may be both are related to genetic and environmental causes and are both related to some type of brain disorder. Evidence does shoe however individuals with autism and epilepsy have worse behavioral and social outcomes than individuals diagnosed with autism only including issues with motor and daily living skills.

Signs for parents to look out for
  • May be difficult to determine especially in children diagnosed with severe autism spectrum disorder. Red flags include, staring episodes, stiffening of the body and shaking movements.
  • A medical evaluation will include brain imaging and an electroencephalogram (EEG).
Teaching Strategies

If you are an educator, be aware that after a seizure, the student will become tired. Allow the student an opportunity to rest.

Reference

Epilepsy Foundation

Medical News Today: Epilepsy and autism: Is there a link?

Neurologist Disorder Treatment. Epilepsy in patients with autism: Links, risks and treatment challenges. Frank McBesag- Published online 2017 Dec 18

Synapse- Autistic Spectrum Disorder Factsheet

 

Children and Ring Chromosome 20 Syndrome

What is Ring Chromosome 20 Syndrome?

Ring Chromosome 20 Syndrome is a chromosomal disorder that is the result of a ring that develops when a chromosome breaks in two places and the short arm of a chromosome has merged with the tip of the long arm.

This anomaly causes recurrent seizures during childhood. It is reported that the seizure can occur at anytime from during the day time to sleeping at night, it is very rare. In fact only 50 cases have been reported in research journals. However, this form of epilepsy can occur from birth to 17 years old.

What makes this rare form of seizures unique is that it does not respond to anti-epileptic medication. Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) tends to be successful as well as the Ketogenic diet in reducing the number of seizures.

Children diagnosed with Ring Chromosome 20 Syndrome typically experience several types of seizures including:

  • Focal seizure
  • Non-convulsive status epilepticus
  • Frontal lobe seizures
  • Tonic seizures
  • Generalized tonic-clonic seizures
Signs and Symptoms

Children with Ring Chromosome 20 Syndrome generally face challenges in the area of behavioral, learning disabilities and intellectual disabilities. In some instances, children may display physical characteristics including slow growth, short stature and a small size head.

Signs and Symptoms of Intellectual Disability
  • Decrease learning ability
  • Delays in crawling
  • Difficulty solving problems
  • Lack of curiosity
  • Language and speech delays
  • Poor motor skills
  • Short attention span
Teaching Strategies
  • Use short and simple sentences
  • Repeat directions
  • use strategies for remembering such as clustering information together
  • Provide immediate feedback
Signs and Symptoms of learning disabilities
  • Difficulty recognizing non-verbal cues such as facial expression
  • Fine motor skills difficulty
  • Weak visual discrimination abilities.
Teaching Strategies
  • Use a multi-sensory approach
  • Break into small steps
  • use probing techniques
  • use diagrams and pictures.
References

Genetics Home Reference

Rare Chromosome Organization

Wikipedia

Teaching Strategies for Dyslexic Students

Dyslexia is the most common learning disability. It is defined as language-based learning disability. Research shows that 1 in 5 people are dyslexic. It is a myth that people with dyslexia see words backwards, rather, letters such as b-d are reversed due tp deficits interpreting left and right. The best way for children to learn to read is through a multi-sensory approach. The following links include tips, strategies and ways to accommodate a student with dyslexia.

12 tips to help kids with dyslexia learn sight words

A dyslexic child in the classroom

Accommodating students with dyslexia in a classroom setting

Dyslexia in the classroom: What every teacher needs to know

Helping your student with dyslexia learn to read

How teachers can accommodate the dyslexic student

Strategies for teachers

Teaching students with dyslexia: 4 effective lesson plans

Resources For Teaching Students with Down Syndrome

Down syndrome (Trisomy 21) is a chromosomal disorder due to 3 copies of chromosome 21, causing a number of developmental delays, medical and physical disabilities. Learning is one of the areas that is affected by the disorder. Children born with Down syndrome typically have delays in the area of gross and fine motor skills, thinking, short attention span, speech and language difficulties and sequencing. The following links and resources include information on tips and strategies for teaching children with Down syndrome for both parents and teachers.

5 tips for including students with Down syndrome in a general education classroom

10 things teachers should know about Down syndrome

Classroom strategies for Down syndrome students

Five instructional strategies for children with Down syndrome

Modifications for students with Down syndrome

Modifying your curriculum for individuals with Down syndrome

Quick tips for teaching students with Down syndrome in general education classes

Strategies for learning and teaching

Supporting the student with Down syndrome in your classroom

Teaching children with Down syndrome- 10 tips from a former teacher

Teaching children with Down syndrome to read

Teaching students with Down syndrome

Teaching tips: Special education children with Down syndrome

Tips for teaching students with Down syndrome

What students with Down syndrome want teachers to know

 

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Teaching Children With Down Syndrome

 

10 things teachers should know about Down syndrome

Down syndrome-Classroom strategies

Five instructional strategies for children with Down syndrome

Homeschooling a child with Down syndrome

Including and accommodating students with Down syndrome

Inclusive education for individuals with Down syndrome

Quick tips for teaching students with Down syndrome

Strategies for Learning and Teaching

Supporting children with Down syndrome in primary school

Supporting the student with Down syndrome in your classroom

Teaching numbers to children with Down syndrome

Teaching students with Down syndrome

Tips for teaching students with Down syndrome

What students with Down syndrome want teachers to know