A shift in thinking is needed when working alongside those diagnosed with 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.
This is a brain-based, invisible, physical disability and is NOT intentional behaviour. FASD is a lifelong disability and 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.
Bad --> Frustrated, defensive, challenged
Lazy --> Tries hard
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
Fussy, demanding --> Oversensitive
Resisting --> Doesn't get it
Trying to make me mad --> Can't remember
Trying to get attention --> Needing contact, support
Acting like a baby --> Dysmaturity
Steals --> Doesn't understand ownership
Doesn't try --> Worried about failing
Inappropriate --> Doesn't understand personal space
For supporters and educators
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 try and shift your feelings from:
Hopelessness --> Hope
Fear --> Understanding, knowledge
Chaos, confusion --> Organisation, meaningfulness
Anger --> Reframing perceptions, defusing
Power struggles --> Working with, rather than at
Frustration --> Trying differently, not harder
Exhaustion --> Re-engergised, new options to try
No good outcomes --> Seeing, supporting strengths
Isolation --> Networking, collaboration
In any situation – shift your approach to intervention!
Traditional behaviour management --> Recognising brain differences
Applying consequences --> Preventing problems
Traditional interventions --> Expanding professional options, creating a toolkit of individualised strategies
Changing people --> Developing effective strategies, changing environments
The above is adapted from 'Trying Differently Rather Than Trying Harder', by Diane Malbin.