I went for a walk with her. I was so shocked to discover this calm girl who could tell wonderful stories about the animals in the park. But at school, she was bouncing off the walls and not able to string words, let alone sentences, together. I really watched how she dealt with the different environments: school, home and community. Others had just tried to change her and her mom and hadn’t looked at how we could shape her environments to help her develop.
(Copeland and Rutland, 1996)
FASD students benefit from a classroom environment where attention has been given to a sense of calm, order, and organization. Auditory and visual distractions need to be minimized to maximize learning. The well-organized and highly structured classroom minimizes the impact of demands to process and interpret new information. This diminishes the confusion and frustration many FASD students experience and maximizes their ability to focus on the task at hand. This calm environment provides a sense of security. Since the FASD student cannot be changed, the environment needs to be modified to encourage positive educational outcomes.
A small classroom with few students is often the environment that works best for these students. However, it is unrealistic to expect that a small classroom setting is always available, and it is likely that there may be several FASD students who have not been identified. Instead, small work areas can be created in the classroom: carrels, worktables, or a special area with positive names, such as “The Office,” or “The Work Station.”
Traditional desks in rows give order and provide a defined space for students from which FASD students benefit. When students sit on the rug, delineate their space with masking tape. Learning centers and sitting at tables with other students can be distracting and require greater student management.
They need a small classroom with hardly any kids in it and hardly anything on the walls.
They don’t need a whole bunch of pictures up…no stimulation except for what
they’re actually meant to be learning.
(Copeland and Rutman, 1996)