Strategies for FAS Parents and Caregivers

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Keys to working successfully with FAS, ARND and ARBD children are structure, consistency, variety, brevity and persistence. Because these children can lack internal structure, caretakers need to provide external structure for them. It is important to be consistent in response and routine so that the child feels the world is predictable. Because of serious problems maintaining attention, it is important to be brief in explanations and directions, but also to use a variety of ways to get and keep their attention. Finally, we must repeat what it is we want them to learn, over and over again.

Many FAS children:

                  Have difficulty structuring work time.

                  Show impaired rates of learning.

                  Experience poor memory.

                  Have trouble generalizing behaviors and information.

                  Act impulsively.

                  Exhibit reduced attention span or is distractible.

                  Display fearlessness and are unresponsive to verbal cautions.

                  Demonstrate poor social judgment.

                  Cannot handle money age appropriately.

                  Have trouble internalizing modeled behaviors.

                  May have differences in sensory awareness (Hypo or Hyper).

                  Language production higher than comprehension.

                  Show poor problem solving strategies.


Effective strategies include:

Fostering independence in self-help and play.

Give your child choices and encourage decision-making.

Focus on teaching daily living skills.

 Encourage the use of positive self talk.

 Have child get ready for next school day before going to bed.

Establish a few simple rules. Use identical language to remind     them of the

rules. "This is your bed, this is where you are supposed to be."

Establish routines so child can predict coming events.

Give child lots of advance warning that activity will soon change to another


For unpredictable behavior at bedtime/mealtime, establish a firm routine.

Break their work down into small pieces so they do not feel overwhelmed.

Be concrete when teaching a new concept. Show them.

Take time to talk with the child with FAS/E — you will find out how the child

thinks. This can help you decide on what to do to help the student to formulate

an appropriate strategy.

Decide what is most important and what is within the control of the child;

ignore the rest.

Be as consistent as possible in imposing consequences, make them as

immediate as possible and remind the student what the consequences are for.

Help the student problem solve: “Where did the problem start?,” “What did I

do?,” “Who did I affect?,” “What else could I have done?,” and “What else

could I do next time?” Write down what is said so that the student can follow

the course of the conversation.

Help the student take another person’s point of view.

Consider the student’s verbal and memory limitations in working through an

incident with the student and deciding what the consequence should be.

Anticipate and prevent problems through close supervision or partnering with peers (i.e., buddy system, peer tutor).


Set limits and follow them consistently.

Change rewards often to keep interest in reward getting high.

Review and repeat consequences of behaviors. Ask them to tell you


Do not debate or argue over rules already established. "Just do it."

Notice and comment when your child is doing well or behaving


Avoid threats.

Redirect behavior.

Intervene before behavior escalates.

Avoid situations where child will be overstimulated.

Have child repeat back their understanding of directions.

Protect them from being exploited. They are naive.

Have pre-established consequences for misbehavior.


The foster or adoptive parent of a child with FAS assumes a responsibility far beyond that normally associated with parenting. The constellation of physical, intellectual, and behavioral characteristics that typifies patients with FAS can create a very demanding situation for any family. The children often require constant supervision. Parents require an extraordinary amount of energy, love, and most of all, consistency.

Ask Dr. Susan