Published data and Canadian population reports suggest that approximately 1% of students in Toronto may have learning problems related to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs). It is therefore imperative to understand how the needs of affected students are being met by various practitioners in their school environment. To date no comprehensive follow-up studies on FASD-affected children, families and educators in Toronto public schools are available. Documentation of school experiences associated with FASDs is needed to aid in developing appropriate and efficient intervention models for FASDs.
Identify and document needs as related to school capacities and education practitioner capabilities with respect to their abilities to support children diagnosed with FASDs.
A qualitative approach using semi-structured interviews was utilized for this exploratory pilot study. Twelve practitioners from various disciplines, all of whom work for Toronto public schools participated.
Participants represented approximately 3500 students enrolled amongst their schools and classrooms. Only one respondent reported having worked with a child diagnosed with an FASD during their career. Education practitioners commonly report a lack of knowledge of FASDs and how to appropriately plan for affected children.
Practitioners need additional supports in order to address FASDs in their schools. As this is the first pilot study on FASDs in the Ontario school system, further study is warranted.
Key words: fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, fasd, education, special needs, intervention, inclusion