1. Reevaluate the meaning of success. Those with FASD can succeed, you just need to redefine what that means. Many people with FASD can hold down a job with extra support and guidance. Your child may not be able to keep up with his peers academically or socially, but he may do an excellent job of entertaining his younger siblings.
2. Provide support. People with FASD can thrive in their home, school and community but only if they have plenty of external supports in place. FASD causes frustration and confusion which leads to meltdowns and an inability to cope with life. If you help them understand the world around them and provide plenty of downtime, they can succeed.
3. Research, research, research. FASD is manifested differently in every individual. This means each person has to figure out what works best for him or her. There is new information coming out all the time, make it your responsibility to keep yourself informed.
4. Psychiatric medication can be helpful, but they will not "cure" the FASD. People with FASD metabolize medications differently, always keep this in mind as they can experience side effects that can be very detrimental.
5. Adequate sleep is a must. Our son is 9 years old and needs 12 hours of rest every night. FASD causes sleep disturbances such as vivid dreams, an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, as well as a mixed up sleep cycle. Many people benefit from a sleep study. Melatonin and magnesium are also beneficial, but use with caution. A quiet room, weighted blanket and a bedtime routine are also helpful.
6. FASD is permanent. There are many types of therapy out there to help improve the damage done by the alcohol, but there is no cure. Your child will not grow out of it. Put supports in place so that when he hits turbulent times, you have the means to keep him safe.
7. Good days and bad days. FASD is notorious for what is known as good days and bad days. There will be days when some tasks come easy and the next day there will be zero ability. This can cause increasing frustration for the parent or caregiver because typically once someone masters a task, they have it for life. Not so with those with FASD.
8. Memory can be sketchy at best. This is due to brain damage which causes those with FASD to have a distorted view of the world. It may appear that they are deliberately lying to you, when in reality they are recalling the incident to the best of their knowledge.
9. Praise is a must. People with FASD are doing their best but still tend to fall short of what is asked of them. Even if you don't verbalize your disappointment, they feel it and internalize it. Imagine living in a world where you feel unable to measure up no matter how hard you try? For this reason, praise is essential for good emotional health.
10. Love them with your whole heart. People with FASD long to be loved. They will return the love ten fold if you give them an opportunity and when the frustrating times come, as they inevitably will, you can soak up that love!
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