Day 32 of 99 Days to FASDay: Do Consequences Work with FASD?

From an article on the FASD Waterloo Region website:

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 (most likely) 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 do not grow out of the disability.

It’s all about accommodations. Discovering why the behaviour happened and trying to prevent or reduce the likelihood of it being repeated. A great visual to keep in mind:

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Come Over To suggests this behaviour environmental adaptation model, by Teresa Kellerman. Please keep in mind information has changed over the years, but I still find some of this valuable.

The 15 BEAM Rules of FASD Behavior Management also known as the Fasstar Trek Model

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  1. Brain Damage from FASD is permanent and unchanging and impacts directly on behaviour.
  2. Environment must be modified in order to see changes in the child’s behaviour.
  3. Attitude toward child should be positive and gentle to prevent frustration and depression.
  4. Medications that work are a combination of a stimulant like Adderall and an SSRI like Paxil. (note there is an FASD Medication algorithm. More information will be shared on an upcoming day.)
  5. Meals provided should be additive-free; avoid aspartame, preservatives, and red colouring. (While getting first-hand knowledge from other parents is extremely helpful, it is advised to speak with a health care practitioner and/or nutritionist).
  6. Expectations should be realistic.  Adjust your expectations to match the child’s ability to function.
  7. Understand that FASD behaviours are primarily a matter of brain dysfunction. (or as we say now, behaviours are symptoms of the disability).
  8. Punishments like spanking or slapping should be avoided to prevent aggression and violence. (This is true for any child. In many areas this is considered physical abuse.)
  9. Supervision needs to be intensified; many children with FASD require 24/7 monitoring.
  10. Consequences may not be effective but should be applied immediately and consistently. (When we talk about consequences, natural consequences are best and provide the connection between actions.)
  11. One-a-day vitamins with minerals and B6 and B12 and extra C and E will ensure nutrition. (see #5 above).
  12. Time out can be a good coping tool for learning to self-calm, but should not be a punishment. (While it is noted not for punishment … perhaps Time and space for calming is a better phrase).
  13. Tough love usually does not work, because the child is not capable of making wise choices.
  14. Individualize the behaviour plan to fit the unique needs of each child.  Not all rules will apply.
  15. Educate yourself about FASD, and teach providers, teachers, family members, especially the child.

In a recent workshop I was at about supporting adults with FASD, Colette Philcox, an adult with FASD, relate her experience growing up. When asked what advice she would give to parents and caregivers for older teens/young adults, she suggested letting them explore and make mistakes, but not ever be too far away to provide support when asked.

2022 Update

It is always my intention to update these posts each year that the series runs. Since 2017, some posts have been removed, revised or replaced as new information comes out. Interestingly this Myth/Fact this year for the first time received feedback on Facebook supporting and questioning it. Usually, the blog posts contain more supporting information so unless one clicks on the link, the full story isn’t always on Facebook. I will be assessing however if the wording could be updated to reflect the comments. I welcome feedback from others on this Day.

There is still lots more to learn and discover as we make our way through our 99-day journey.

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