Working with fetal alcohol syndrome children

Garden Valley Collegiate
Winkler, Manitoba

By James Buhler (Grade 12)

"To see progress in any child makes you feel good," says sixteen-year old Anna Thompson. "But seeing progress in a fetal alcohol syndrome child is even better."

Thompson is a Grade 11 student at Prespatou School in Prespatou, British Columbia. Two years ago, she worked in a school on the Blueberry Indian Reserve, helping with students from kindergarten to grade five.

According to Thompson, children who are born with FAS don't have a choice. When their mother drinks alcohol while pregnant, she probably will cause the child to get this disease. The disease does extreme damage to the fetus and the child may be born with mental disabilities.

"Some FAS kids are affected more than others, but there is always a restraint on what they can or cannot learn (or so I've found). Some do develop more quickly than others," says Thompson.

FAS children sometimes have very moody days. In the morning "they might be easy, pleasant, and fun to work with, but by the time recess rolls around they be as fun to work with as a mad bear," she says.

Thompson feels it is a lot of work, but that in the end it is rewarding enough to go through the suffering.

Editor's note: James Buhler met Anna Thompson in a collaborative on-line project between his GVC English course in Manitoba and Anna's law course in British Columbia. The interview was conducted fully on-line.

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