Thinking Differently
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Thinking Differently

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:
BadFrustrated, defended, challenged
LazyTries hard
LiesConfabulates, fills in
Doesn't tryExhausted or can't start
MeanDefensive, hurt, abused
Doesn't care, shut downCan't show feelings
Refuses to sit stillOverstimulated
Fussy, demandingOversensitive
ResistingDoesn't get it
Trying to make me madCan't remember
Trying to get attentionNeeding contact, support
Acting youngerDysmaturity
StealsDoesn't understand ownership
Doesn't tryTired of failing
InappropriateDoesn'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, confusionOrganization, meaningfulness
AngerReframing perceptions, defusing
Power strugglesWorking with, rather than at
FrustrationTrying differently, not harder
ExhaustionRe-engergized, new options to try
No good outcomesSeeing, supporting strengths
IsolationNetworking, collaboration

Those working with children diagnosed under FASD need to shift their approach to intervention.

Shift From:To:
Traditional behavior managementRecognizing brain differences
Applying consequencesPreventing problems
Traditional interventionsExpanding professional options, creating a toolkit of individualized strategies
Changing peopleDeveloping effective strategies, changing environments

Adapted with permission from Trying Differently Rather Than Trying Harder, by Diane Malbin. Permission granted March 2011.

Developmental Resource Centre Waterloo RegionSunbeam Centre