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Being a caregiver of someone with prenatal alcohol exposure is hard. Typical strategies leave us feeling inadequate when really typical strategies don't work.  It's time to unburden yourself of the guilt that comes from that perceived failure and allow a paradigm shift to begin.  

Parenting from a "Neurobehavioral Approach" will allow you to see your child's brain difference as a physical disability and not a failing on their part or yours.  You would not expect someone in a wheelchair to suddenly burst out and run laps around a gym, similarly, you should not expect your loved one with FASD to be able to do something their brain will not allow.  

Fortunately, much research has been done on FASD and there are proven approaches for success.   With understanding and a plan, much progress can be made.

The maturity and development of people with FASD can be uneven and confusing. Strong abilities in certain areas, such as expressive language, can hide deficiencies in other areas. Caregivers are encouraged to “think younger” when assessing their child’s abilities and to look at dysmaturity as a symptom of the disorder.

Physical Maturity  ______________________________18

Emotional Maturity______________9

Daily Living Skills____________________11

Expressive Language___________________________________________23

Language Comprehension_______9

Reading Decoding___________________________16

Reading Comprehension_______8

Money & Time Concepts_______8

Social Skills____________________9

Understanding Danger_____5

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Developmental Profile at 18 years old

Developmental Dysmaturity

What can I do to help

my loved one?

  • Early diagnosis and intervention 

  • Supervision, supervision, supervision - typically people with FASD function at from 1/3 to 1/2 their age.

  • Have your child seen by an occupational therapist for sensory processing and a speech/language pathologist for social communication.  Ask for a sensory diet.

  • Understand that your child or adult has brain damage. Upset or difficulties may be brain-based and not a purposeful.


  • Reduce daily requirements and demands to alleviate overwhelm

  • Do not punish your child for what he or she cannot do; instead, change what you do. Typical methods of discipline often do not work.

  • Be an advocate for your loved one - you are the expert.

  • Build a circle of support around your teen and adult - think inter-dependence, not independence.

  • Slow down the transition to adulthood​

  • Relationship is vital

  • Ask don't tell a teen or adult

  • Make the problem about you. People with FASD often want to be helpful.

Some things you can do...

FASD and Sleep

Sleep differences are often significant for people with FASD and sleep deprivation can make symptoms associated with FASD more severe.  While you may not be able to fully cure this problem because it is in part due to organic brain differences, there are lots of strategies to help.  We have listed some ideas to try when working on a sleep routine, but as with everything FASD, each person is different and what calms one, may excite the next. Observe and modify based on reactions.


Creating a good sleeping routine

  • Families Moving Forward, program for families raising preschool children with FASD, University of Washington

  • MILE: Math Interactive Learning Experience Program, math intervention program, Emory university

  • Making Math Real: A multisensory math program designed for students with math disability

  • Children’s Friendship Program: UCLA

  • Parent-Child Assistance Program: University of Washington, a 3 year home visitation model for high risk mothers

  • Good Buddies, a children’s friendship training program for individuals with FASD to teach social skills, UCLA

  • PACT: Parents and Children Together: A neurocognitive rehabilitation program to improve self- regulation and executive function, Children’s Research Triangle, Chicago

Interventions proven for FASD

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