Day 38 of 99 Days to FASDay: Families Moving Forward


Over the next few days of 99 Days to FASDay we continue sharing information about early intervention programs which help improve outcomes for people with FASD and their families or caregivers.

It needs to be stated again, the sharing of this information is not an endorsement. Every attempt has been made to share only information from reputable sources. Links are provided for you to conduct your own research.

Today’s information comes from a Report: Prenatal Alcohol Use and FASD : Diagnosis, Assessment and New Directions in Research and Multimodal Treatment, 2011, 64-107, Chapter 4: An Innovative Look at Early Intervention for Children Affected by Prenatal Alcohol Exposure by Heather Carmichael Olson and Rachel A. Montague.

Over the next few days we will share three programs highlighted in the above report which the authors note are:

scientifically validated parenting interventions that seem especially promising for FASD intervention from a neurodevelopmental viewpoint.

These scientifically validated interventions teach positive parenting skills, and methods for dealing with behavior that can be challenging for parents and caregivers.

Today we look at the Families Moving Forward program. It is offered in Seattle, Washington (USA). However, there are options for training so that other agencies could offer this program, so it is not necessarily limited to Seattle or even the USA.

The information is taken directly from the noted report (and is found on pages 19 & 20).

The Families Moving Forward (FMF) Program is a positive parenting intervention, developed by Olson and colleagues. The FMF intervention model was designed for families raising children with FASD who also have clinically concerning behavior.

The FMF model is a behavioral consultation intervention that combines a positive behavior support approach with motivational interviewing and other scientifically validated treatment techniques. The FMF intervention is specialized for families raising children (ages 4 – 12) with FASD, though it is likely useful for children with other neurodevelopmental disabilities.

The FMF intervention is delivered individually to families by trained clinicians who have access to supervision or consultation. There is a manual for the FMF intervention, but it is flexible enough to respond to the needs of the diverse population of children with FASD and their families.

The efficacy of FMF services has been tested as home-based counseling delivered from a university setting and later by a community agency, with promising results so far. Delivery in clinic settings has also been tried and is quite feasible. The FMF Program has been designed to be affordable, and is now being disseminated to community agencies that have a special commitment to serving children with FASD.

In the FMF intervention model, care givers are offered support and education, sustained behavioral consultation that includes coaching on skills, targeted school and provider consultation, advocacy assistance, and connection to community linkages. There is a strong emphasis on emotional support for care givers who must adjust to a disability that is often unrecognized by social systems, teachers and even health care providers.

Other ‘optional’ treatment elements can be added, such as finding respite care or learning how to explain a FASD diagnosis to a child.

Receiving FMF services does not preclude other services, and the FMF intervention model actually emphasizes links to other community resources.

The FMF Program is a care giver-focused intervention, designed to be used with families experiencing high care giving stress.

Data on the FMF Program were gathered with the intervention offered in bi-weekly visits, usually 90 minutes, over 9 to 11 months. A shorter duration with more frequent visits is feasible. There is a highly collaborative and equal relationship between parent and professional (FMF Specialist).

The aims of Families Moving Forward is to help parents:

  1. reframe and understand their child’s neurological impairment and ability to process emotions, changing attitudes in a more positive, realistic direction.
  2. learn skills for how to come up with and use accommodations, such as modifications to the home or classroom.
  3. learn how to set up practical behavior plans to reduce self-selected behavior problems.

These plans rely less on setting up consequences for misbehavior rather more on parents thinking about the triggers and circumstances surrounding their children’s behavior, and how to provide accommodations so the challenging behavior decreases and the child acts in a more functional way. The idea is for parents to learn how to create behavior plans, so they have strategies to use in the future when new behaviors crop up. Parents receive a customized workbook, and do regular home activities to practice new skills and attitudes.

The study compared two groups of families  (1) FMF services; and (2) the community standard of care. Families were very diverse in terms of ethnic background, social class, income level, and type of family structure (adoptive, birth, foster; grandparents, single parents, two-parent families).

Immediately after treatment, relative to controls, findings showed the FMF group reported significantly greater family needs met, a greater sense of parenting efficacy, more parental self-care and decreased disruptive behavior. Parents reported high satisfaction with treatment. Treatment compliance was excellent, with 96% of families completing the basic intervention in this first efficacy trial.

For more information, see the Families Moving Forward website.

2019 Update:

At the 8th International Conference on FASD Christie Petrenko and Cristiano Tapparello presented information about a mobile app for this program to reduce barriers and
increase access to FASD-informed care. It is currently in trial.


Families Moving Forward Connect: Developing a Mobile Health Intervention for Families Raising Children with FASD

For more information, you can view their slideshow presentation.

Check back tomorrow for another positive parenting program! One from 2017 and a new one for 2018!


2 thoughts on “Day 38 of 99 Days to FASDay: Families Moving Forward

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