Most children with Fragile X can benefit from special education services that are tailored to their particular strengths and weaknesses. Educational treatments should take the child’s specific symptoms of Fragile X into account to promote the best learning environment.
Eligibility for Special Education
Most children with Fragile X are eligible for free, appropriate public education under federal law. Although a medical diagnosis does not guarantee access to special education services, most children with Fragile X will have certain cognitive or learning deficits that makes them eligible for services. Parents can contact a local school principal or special education coordinator to learn how to have a child examined to see if he or she qualifies for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Suggestions for Working with Individuals with Fragile X
Everyone with Fragile X is unique. However, those with this disorder often share some particular behaviors and intellectual characteristics. For example, children with Fragile X can easily become overwhelmed by crowds, noise, and touch. Other common characteristics include weak abstract thinking skills and poor quantitative (measuring and counting) skills. However, these children often have unique strengths as well, including visual memory. By taking these unique strengths and weaknesses into account, teachers can promote the best learning for these children.1
- Know the learning style of the individual.
- Develop a consistent daily schedule or routine.
- Use visual signs (pictures, sign language, logos, words) and concrete examples or materials to present ideas, concepts, steps, etc.
- Prepare the individual for any changes in routine by explaining these changes ahead of time, possibly by using visual signs.
- Include functional goals with academic goals; for instance, teach the individual the names of different pieces of clothing as well as how to dress himself/herself.
- Provide opportunities for the child to be active and move around.
- Use computers and interactive educational software.
- Provide a quiet place where the child can first retreat and then regroup.
Teachers can use the National Fragile X Foundation’s Lesson Planning Guide for Fragile X to learn more about the best strategies for teaching children with Fragile X.
What Type of Classroom
In general, there are three options for the classroom placement of a child with Fragile X, based on that child’s specific abilities and needs:
- Full inclusion in a regular classroom
- Inclusion with “pull-out” services
- Full-time special education classroom
Placement decisions should be based on each child’s needs and abilities.
The Individualized Educational Plan (IEP)
If a child with Fragile X syndrome qualifies for special services, a team of people will work together to design an IEP for the child. The team may include parents or caregivers, teachers, a school psychologist, and other specialists in child development or education. The IEP includes specific learning goals for that child, based on his or her needs and capabilities. The team also decides how best to carry out the IEP. It reaches a consensus on classroom placement for the child, determines any devices or special assistance the child needs, and identifies the specialists who will work with the child.
The special services team should evaluate the child on a regular basis. The team can chart progress and decide whether changes in treatment are needed (for instance, changes to the IEP, in classroom placement, or in the services provided).