A shift in thinking is needed when working along side those diagnosed under FASD. Typical behaviour management strategies don’t work. Remember children diagnosed with FASD won’t learn from consequences. Sending them to their room or taking away a privilege may give the caregiver immediate satisfaction or relief but it will not have an impact on the child’s behaviour. Remember this is a brain based invisible physical disability and not intentional behaviour. FASD is a lifelong disability. Individuals affected by FASD will not grow out of their disability.
The shift is from seeing a child as one who won’t do something to one who can’t.
The shift includes moving from:
|From Seeing a Child as:||To Understanding a Child as:|
|Bad||Frustrated, defended, challenged|
|Lies||Confabulates, fills in|
|Doesn't try||Exhausted or can't start|
|Mean||Defensive, hurt, abused|
|Doesn't care, shut down||Can't show feelings|
|Refuses to sit still||Overstimulated|
|Resisting||Doesn't get it|
|Trying to make me mad||Can't remember|
|Trying to get attention||Needing contact, support|
|Steals||Doesn't understand ownership|
|Doesn't try||Tired of failing|
|Inappropriate||Doesn't understand personal space|
Parents, caregivers, teachers or others working with children diagnosed under FASD often take their behaviours personally and forget that the child is often confused, scared and not feeling good about themselves. It is important as a support person to shift your feelings from:
|Personal Shift From:||To Feelings Of:|
|Chaos, confusion||Organization, meaningfulness|
|Anger||Reframing perceptions, defusing|
|Power struggles||Working with, rather than at|
|Frustration||Trying differently, not harder|
|Exhaustion||Re-engergized, new options to try|
|No good outcomes||Seeing, supporting strengths|
Those working with children diagnosed under FASD need to shift their approach to intervention.
|Traditional behavior management||Recognizing brain differences|
|Applying consequences||Preventing problems|
|Traditional interventions||Expanding professional options, creating a toolkit of individualized strategies|
|Changing people||Developing effective strategies, changing environments|
Adapted with permission from Trying Differently Rather Than Trying Harder, by Diane Malbin. Permission granted March 2011.