The lack of personal judgment compromises the FASD student in the classroom. He trusts others and is easily led by peers into negative situations; being liked by peers and being one of the group is of prime importance to him. He can be the class scapegoat. The student also has an inability to make a thoughtful choice. When several ideas or choices are offered, the student often chooses the first or last choice presented. He does not stop to consider all the alternatives. In making his choice the student does not take into account the rules of the classroom, the lunchroom, or the playground.
The poor judgment exhibited by these students is quite worrisome. Not only do they lack common sense, they also exhibit fearlessness. Indiscriminate trust of others, including strangers, and being influenced easily can lead to dangerous and unhealthy situations. Poor judgment leads to poor decisions, which can become a more serious concern as the student enters middle school.
At one time an older adolescent who was living with his parents met someone at a bus stop.
His parents were out of town at the time. He invited his new friend over to his home where his new friend proceeded to rob the family. When his parents returned home and saw the loss, they were stunned. They asked, “How could you bring a stranger home?” Their son replied, “That wasn’t a stranger; I met him at the bus stop.”
A. Streissguth (Malbin, 1993)
The behavior of these students is often misinterpreted as deliberate misconduct. Their behavior is viewed as bizarre; it does not make sense. The teacher has told them the consequences of misbehavior, but these students do not seem to listen or care. Teachers give these students a choice to make the right decision, but the student doesn’t follow through. When the student is confronted about his misbehavior, he is usually confused. He gives several responses until he stumbles upon the one the teacher is expecting.
Difficulty with problem solving is one of the reasons FAS[D] persons lie and steal. They may be sincere in wanting to tell the truth, but not have the faculties available to relate to others accurately or , in wanting to please, create a fantasy.
FASD students have the following deficits, which explain their lack of judgment. These deficits are associated with damage to specific areas in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus.
- These students are impulsive and often act without stopping to think.
- These students have difficulty with attention.
- These students have poor short-term memory and information-processing difficulties:
- Difficulty generalizing
- Difficulty learning from past experiences
- Difficulty following rules
- Difficulty recognizing cause-and-effect
- These students are unable to interpret social cues from their classmates due to poor abstract thinking.