It may seem obvious to point out that the FASD student feels confusion under pressure. However, this behavior characteristic is important to illuminate. The FASD student experiences confusion when feeling pressure just like other students. In addition, the FASD student has neurological insults that exacerbate the situation. When questioned about an incident, information-processing and memory deficits might make it difficult to remember what just happened. Abstract questions about other people’s feelings and how they plan to resolve the situation may not be possible to determine. Often the FASD student is overwhelmed and confused under this pressure. When questioned about why misbehavior occurred, or how they plan to correct it, they typically respond with an, “I don’t know.” They are being truthful because they really do not know what happened. Adults who are not familiar with FASD profile interpret this type of response as the student being lazy or lacking in motivation.
It is important to recognize that the FASD student has a myriad of pressures they must deal with with on a daily basis. The many difficulties resulting from brain damage create pressure and stress at school and at home. These students rarely have days at school without challenges.
Many people find changes in their routine to be stressful. For the FASD student, routines are a stabilizing factor in their life, helping them predict what will happen. Routines and consistency reduce the amount of overload that overwhelms them. When change or transitions do occur (such as a new teacher), it is stressful for the FASD student, and they experience confusion. While they are capable of adapting to change, it may be a long, arduous road.
FASD students have the following deficits, which explain why they feel confused under pressure. These deficits are associated with damage to specific areas in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus.
- These students experience poor Habituation
- They have information-processing difficulties
- They have memory deficits
Habituation represents the ability of an organism to “tune out” the many stimuli that are not relevant to its well-being.