The NB approach, or neurobehavioral approach, also called the brain-based approach, is an understanding of FASDs as a physical disability. Because alcohol causes structural, developmental, and even cellular differences in the brain as it is developing in utero, FASD is truly brain damage. Typically the only symptoms of this brain damage that we will see are behavioral changes. Individuals with FASD may be slow to respond to ask a question,  may have difficulty making decisions, may have trouble ‘acting their age’ or doing tasks independently. They may have difficulty learning in a ‘typical’ classroom and may struggle socially.

That said, every person with FASD is different, and the NB approach teaches caregivers, family members and professionals to see the difficulties and strengths of each individual with FASD and use these difficulties and strengths to make accommodations that set that person up for success. Since FASD is a physical disability it only makes sense to do for folks with FASD the same as we do for others with more visible physical disabilities: provide accommodations and environmental change.

A description of the NB Approach can be found in Diane Malbin’s book,  FASD: Trying Differently Rather Than Harder. Our organization, Families Affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder ( presents trainings about caring for, living with, working with, and supporting people with FASDs using the neurobehavioral model.  Please see our Workshops and Training page for more information.

What is the NB Approach to FASD?