Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, or FASD, is an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of effects resulting from prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) & which have life-long impact. These can include physical, emotional & developmental delays and learning disabilities. Because the child’s presentation may meet the diagnostic criteria for a variety of physical and mental health disorders, a multi-disciplinary approach is recommended to obtain an accurate diagnosis.
FASD is thought to affect 3 to 5% the general population which makes it 4-5 times more prevalent than autism. Care experienced children seem disproportionately affected by FASD & concerns for their child, in relation to the impact on them of PAE, is a significant issue in the lives of many adoptive parents & carers.
The damage to the brain caused by PAE mainly occurs in the parts of the brain that affect information processing. It is important to hold this in mind when dealing with challenging behaviours shown by a child with FASD. Thinking ‘can’t’ rather than ‘won’t’ can help to reframe the meaning of the behaviour & help us to be more patient & empathic in our responses.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ to supporting children with FASD, but there are strategies that can help. This Moffle infographic has been inspired by Deb Evenson and Jan Lutke’s Eight Magic Keys (1997), which encourages a team approach to develop consistent interventions, at home & school.
FASD is complicated & every child is unique and will experience different challenges, as well as having different strengths. Individualised plans that accommodate difference are vital to success. It’s important to think beyond chronological age and meet each child at their developmental, social, and emotional stages, with patience & kindness.