Living with FASD
Strategies for Daily Living
FAS/FASD through the Lifespan
FAS/FASD has lifelong implications. There is a broad range of characteristics to watch for at different ages.
- Infants: low birth weight; irritability; sensitivity to light, noises and touch; poor sucking; slow development; poor sleep-wake cycles; increased ear infections.
- Toddlers: poor memory capability, hyperactivity, lack of fear, no sense of boundaries and a need for excessive physical contact.
- Grade-school years: short attention span, poor coordination and difficulty with both fine and gross motor skills.
- Older children: trouble keeping up with school, low self-esteem from recognizing that they are different from their peers.
- Teenagers: poor impulse control, cannot distinguish between public and private behaviors, must be reminded of concepts on a daily basis.
- Adults: need to deal with many daily obstacles, such as affordable and appropriate housing, transportation, employment and money handling.
Strategies for Living
Establish a relationship with a pediatrician and consult him or her with any problems or questions. Here are some other helpful tips—
- Poor sleep-wake cycles/irritability: Play soft music and sing to your baby. Rocking, frequent holding, low lights, automatic swings and wrapping them snugly in a soft blanket also can be helpful.
- Poor weight gain: Consult a nutritionist to develop a food plan or discuss supplement use.
- Chronic ear infections: Speak to a specialist about evaluating your child’s hearing and effectively treating infections.
- Delays in rolling over, crawling, walking: See an occupational therapist for assistance. Also help your baby in crawling, grabbing and pulling.
- Speech delays: Consult a speech therapist and purchase tapes or toys that are specifically designed for children with delays. Speak and read aloud expressively to your baby.
- Continued motor skill delays: Work with an occupational or physical therapist. Use toys that focus on manipulating joints and muscles.
- Distracted easily: Establish a routine and use structure. Simplify rooms in the home and reduce noises or other stimulation.
- Dental problems: Consult a pediatric dentist. Your child may not be able to sit still, so be sure to prepare your child for the exam and allow more time for the appointment.
- Small appetites or sensitivity to food texture: Serve small portions that are lukewarm or cool and have some texture. Allow plenty of time during meals and decrease distractions such as television, radio or multiple conversations.
- Bedtime: If your child cannot sleep at night, shorten naps or cut them out completely.
- Making and keeping friends: Pair your child with another who is one or two years younger. Provide activities that are short and fun.
- Boundary issues: Create a stable, structured home with clear routines and plenty of repetition.
- Attention problems: Medication may be helpful. Keep the child’s environment as simple as possible, and structure time with brief activities.
- Easily frustrated/tantrums: Remove your child from the situation and use calming techniques such as sitting in a rocker, giving a warm bath or playing quiet music.
- Difficulty understanding cause and effect: Repetition, consistency and clear consequences for behavior are important.
- Anxiety and depression: Medication may be helpful, as well as counseling or encouraging your child to participate in sports, clubs or other structured activities.
- Victimization: Monitor the activities of your child and discuss dealing with strangers.
- Lying, stealing or antisocial behavior: Family counseling is helpful, as well as setting simple and consistent rules with immediate consequences.
- Housing: Finding appropriate housing for adults affected by FAS/FASD is extremely challenging. Contact your state’s department of disabilities to pursue residential funding and get on every waiting list you can find that offers housing options.
- Poor peer or social relations: Enroll your child in classes or social clubs for adults with disabilities.
- Mental health issues: Provide structure, routine and plenty of activities. Investigate medication options and counseling.
- Handling money: Many FAS adults need the family to handle all financial matters.
- Difficulty obtaining or keeping jobs: Investigate trade schools, job training programs or job coaches. Be sure to select jobs that offer structured, routine activities that won’t cause overload or stress.
- Keep your family’s routine as consistent as possible.
- If the family’s routine or schedule changes, remind your child about changes.
- Learn how to tell when your child is getting frustrated, and help out early.
- Make sure your child understands the rules at home.
- Tell your child about what will happen if he or she has good behavior or bad behavior at home.
- Let your child know when he or she has good behavior.
- Teach self-talk to help your child develop self-control. Use specific, short phrases such as “stop and think.”
- Repeat everything you say and give your child many chances to do what you ask.
- Be patient.
- Give directions one step at a time. Wait for your child to do the first step in the directions before telling your child the second step.
- Tell your child before you touch him or her.
- Be sure your child understands your rules, and be firm and consistent with them.