Using the Neurobehavioral Approach
We return to another series of posts featuring the NB Approach for raising or supporting a person with FASD. You can find the first series of posts here: Day 12 of 99 Days to FASDay.
Rather than posting individually over the last few days here on WordPress, I combined the posts into one.
All the information in the graphics is used with permission from Families Affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder courtesy of the parents on their Shifting the Paradigm discussion page on Facebook.
All the comments under the graphics are reflections of my experience.
Day 76 of 99 Days to FASDay: Behaviour is Communication. Be a Brain Detective
When your child is overwhelmed, she may not be able to verbalize what is going on. While most people understand this in younger children, older children, with FASD, may not always be able to verbalize what is happening inside their minds or bodies.
The following handout: Behavioral Symptoms and Accommodations (from FAFASD) might help you be a brain detective. It provides a chart outlining behavioural symptoms, what it can look like, what the brain difference is and suggested accommodations.
Day 77 of 99 Days to FASDay: Reactivity and Self-Care
Recognizing reactivity and accepting the apology was a difficult one for me. Not so much when she was calling me names – that doesn’t bother me – it was more learning and responding to how she apologized – letting go of how I expected the apology to be. In the beginning, she would not apologize. I don’t think she knew how. And at first, the apologies didn’t seem sincere. But I learned to accept the apology and move on.
I also learned to remove myself to practice self-care so I could be present fully for her.
In the last really large rage (reacting to her fear that I had abandoned her because I was late coming home, and she was not able to verbalize her fear), I arranged for her respite worker to take her for the night, so I was able to clean up, process and come to terms with what had happened.
I learned to create calm in the midst of the chaos of FASD by learning to not react to her reactivity. It isn’t always easy, but it is critical. And self-care is important. Raising the maiden required a lot of energy I needed to replenish.
Day 78 of 99 Days to FASDay: Accommodate Based on Strengths
The maiden is very visual. She can remember a location after only visiting once, and she is excellent at spotting the difference, hidden object games and word searches. We used this visual strength rather than her memory or ability to understand verbal directions.
When younger we created a series of pictures for her bedroom wall and the bathroom, showing steps to get ready in the morning. Sometimes we had to remind her to look at her reminders! As she got older, to-do lists on a whiteboard or on a sheet of paper helped her take responsibility for routines and chores. She uses alarms on her phone and we are about to try out using Alexa. I don’t always, but texting works as well.
One benefit of using visuals or texts, is it removes the “nagging” by simply saying, What does your chart say?
Day 79 of 99 Days to FASDay: Brain Function Fluctuates
This one seems to be difficult for people who do not interact with the maiden on a day-to-day basis, or for those that do not understand FASD – because one minute you are dealing with someone who is acting what Society expects based on her chronological age, but the next minute, on a different task, her ability is reduced. One day she may be able to cope, but the next day, like many people, because she is tired, not feeling well, or memory, she may not be able to cope – but because she can’t always verbalize her feelings, her behaviour is usually the clue.
I try to go with the flow and meet her where she is – not where I think she should be. Or as Jeff Noble says, think stage, not age.
Day 80 of 99 Days to FASDay: Modify the Environment
Supervise, Modify, Accommodate. You know your child the best, so you know how much freedom or independence you can provide. However, when your child does something not expected, ask yourself, Did I expect too much? Did I remove temptation? Did I modify the environment?
As a child, the maiden was not allowed to spend the night at a friend’s house because she did not understand appropriate social boundaries. An adult had to be present (and close) if she went on a day trip to ensure she made wise choices. Timers and safety features were installed on computers because she was vulnerable online. She still receives money weekly, to remove the temptation to spend every penny in one shopping trip.
Two phrases I removed from my vocabulary: When are you going to learn? and How many times do I need to tell you? There are some things I may need to tell (or show or remind) her a hundred times before she learns it and there are things she may never learn. I needed to learn what I needed to do to set her up for success.
Important to Remember when implementing the Neurobehavioral Approach
This suggestion may be difficult for some people because they may not be comfortable with disclosure. It is a personal choice. It is a fine balance between respecting privacy yet wanting to set your child up for success. Unless you educate those closest to your child how will you expect them to understand and respond appropriately.
Click Always Remember the Brain for the FAFASD handout which lists the 30 Strategies for Parents of Children with a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder highlighted in this series.
Come back tomorrow as we learn more about FASD.