This post is by James Bromley, an individual with FASD and an FASD advocate. Posted with permission.

FASD kids : finding the middle ground

I am by no means saying some of the tips below will work for you. It’s just a case of adapting what you see here to fit the model you use at home. Remember the human brain responds as it is addressed.

Remember the human brain responds as it is addressed. If you lose it so will they and they’ll just shut down.

If you lose it so will they and they’ll just shut down.
If you talk to them in a calm friendly tone as frustrating and as hard as that may be in a crisis, this will resonate with them and eventually when they see they are losing the fight they respond in kind. In theory anyway.
This is how it was for me at home. When I saw how calm my carer was, I calmed right down, was able to listen and comply, but only with guidance. There were times when they calmed me down and left and so did the instruction. It walked right out the door with them!

If your little person says, “I can do it now, I’m okay” and you walk off and they don’t, just try again, but this time stay with them silently by their side.
Take a non-evasive position such as sitting on the floor, bringing yourself down to their level, at a safe distance and simply observe.
If that doesn’t work observe from a safe distance, standing at the doorway, head gently resting against the doorframe in a way that suggests, “I’m simply watching you, trusting you out of your space.”
Like I said every situation is unique to its environment. The brain adapts to the language it ‘hears’, literally!
They try new things and realize the old way was borne out of fear and a lack of personal knowledge. A knowledge that can only be learnt from the lived experience.
It is the same with the FAS mind/brain. We respond accordingly. When we don’t understand we react accordingly, we lose it because we do not have control of our emotional brain.
Over time we are shown how to behave/react to certain situations and our parents, etc. request that we will follow suit.
It is as simple as that.
A child raised in a positive environment becomes a positive organized well-rounded person.
A child raised in a negative environment becomes a disorganized, uncoordinated (as in judgment, planning etc) person.
Look at it this way, the Human brain is basically an organic, biological video playback recorder; what you put in you get played back to you.
It is as simple (there’s that word again) as that!
But of course, all this has to happen from childhood. Later in life in the drugged, drunk FAS mind getting through will be almost impossible unless you can get them off and away from the ‘sauce’ of the problem. Just a bit of humor to lighten the mood.
So why did I turn out the way I am, here? Good question!
*I was raised by half a dozen good hearted well-meaning people and one unstable unbalanced person.
All of the love and attention I needed to ‘play-back’ to the world was instilled into me before the age of five. So that is who I became. Ancestral genetics also played a major role.
However, it took the better part of fighting through forty-five years of negativity and being manipulated by people with their own misguided agenda’s and the demon of addiction before I had the fight in me to bring the love, happiness, and determination I so needed to give back to the world into the light to share with you.
*In my home I was belted, threatened, grounded and on occasion denied an evening meal for not doing my chores, not walking the dog, not cleaning my bathroom, or doing my homework.
*What my parents; father, my stepmother had her own misguided agenda, did not do was ask me what the matter was.
Had he, I would’ve told him.
I believe my stepmother was very badly abused as a child. Why else would someone especially an adult behave in such an irrational way? I do not and never will believe people are born bad.
Below are some examples from my life about why an FAS child may be upset or nonverbal or disruptive at home and or at school.
“I’m being bullied at school. Today they shoved my head into the toilet bowl, pissed on it kicked me in the arse and ran off. I had to spend the rest of the day stinking like a toilet and was given detention for disrupting the class.”
“And then you grounded me, Dad.”
“Judy (stepmother) lied to you again about me being rude to her when I got home.”
“I just don’t know what to say to her when I walk in. She always scowls at me. Sometimes I say hello and she snarls at me to go to my room and not to come out until “ya father gets home”
And then you belt me because she tells you I need a thrashing for being rude to her.”
“I hit that kid today because he cornered me in the inner quadrangle away from everyone so he could beat me up because of being a poof. He hit me and I decked him” “Then they suspended me.”
“I keep stealing from your wallet because the kids at school threaten me unless I give them money” “I have to pay them for me doing their homework, or they bash me.”
Mine is an extreme case. I needed to put this here to make a point.
When I was at home I didn’t know how to explain why my brain just shuts down because, “I’m so unhappy because I’m copping it at school and at home.”
All I could say was three little words.
Three words that you as a parent/carer will undoubtedly hear often.
“I don’t know!”
Please don’t scold them for this.

They literally Do Not Know.

Three words that you as a parent/carer will undoubtedly hear often.
“I don’t know!”
Please don’t scold them for this.
They literally Do Not Know.

Their emotional brain and language centres do not communicate in times of stress. They do not communicate for the most part but during times of stress, what little progress there is, is drowned out by a massive chemical imbalance sending the brain into a loop which activates the HPA axis (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal) into overdrive.
If you have a child/teen who has a problem with hypersexuality, and overstepping boundaries perhaps best consult a psych about it. It may be something as simple as changing the chemical imbalance in those synapses.
Hey, I’m not a doctor, just someone who has extrapolated this from combining research with my own memories and applying it to my “Adult” life!
Stress and fear are the two major hurdles a child with FAS faces every day.
We don’t want to appear dumb or incapable, and we certainly do not want (you) to know about it. God forbid. What would Mum & Dad think if I didn’t know how to do stuff?
And therein lies the defeatist thinking.
“Catastrophizing” is our greatest weakness. It is so easy to fall into this trap.
“I want to do my homework, but I can’t.”
“I don’t understand Math and I don’t know why.”
“History is even worse, I mean it was so long ago, who cares?
“Why do I have to know why some short-arse, (Napoleon) defeated another country a million years ago?”
“Hey, don’t swear!” Just a bit of humor to break the tension.
“I understand some English, like spelling, but it’s the comprehension, that bogs me down, then my brain stops, I get distracted, my mind wanders and before I know it, I’ve spent the better half of the rest of the night on Social media.”
“And then I get in trouble, without even as much of an ‘Are you okay, what’s happened, Can I help?’ ‘Let’s tackle this tomorrow morning or after school and see what we can do.’
You’d be surprised how receptive an FAS child can be if they’re offered just a bit of interest and help. However, DO NOT do the work for them, that’s the oldest trick in the book, simply guide them. If they can they’ll have you doing it for them.

We may have FAS but we’re not stupid!

We may have FAS but we’re not stupid!

Depression has many sources. If your kids are depressed and can’t explain it. More than likely it is because they have problems articulating their emotions.
Or it could be something like the above.
*It could be because they can’t understand their schoolwork and don’t know how to tell you because they don’t want to let you down.
*It may even be a sexuality thing.
However, “the talk” is a tricky one.
Where I am on the spectrum I knew what I was doing. I mean it’s not rocket science, it’s biology. But there will be FASD kids who need guidance, obviously.
I have no idea how to handle this and any advice I give would be wrong and possibly inappropriate. Best seek advice from a proper professional.
We may not know how to explain why our brains don’t work and the last thing many FAS kids do not want, is to disappoint their parents or lose face with their friends.

I understand things are different these days and many of you out there reading this have kids who are more informed about their condition.

Knowing is one thing.
Comprehending it and living up to the expectations around us from a myriad of people is quite another indeed.
It’s no wonder our brains just, Stop!

Knowing is one thing.
Comprehending it and living up to the expectations around us from a myriad of people is quite another indeed.
It’s no wonder our brains just, Stop!
So how do we change this?
As so many people have said before:
Lower your expectations.
Remember your 18-year-old may be operating cognitively close by but emotionally they’re half their age. And if they seem to be doing well, it may just be an act to impress you.
Just an aside here. Is it any wonder so many kids are having car accidents! Why the hell are we giving 8-year-olds driver’s licenses? Yeah. That’s right!
Lobby your local politician. This is why we need more political representation. Our kids are drinking and driving, and they are half their chronological age. I mean, WTF??!!
NEVER Be Afraid to STAND UP for the rights of your disabled child. The more of you that flood their (political offices) will mail. The message will not only get through, they’ll have no choice but to fund us. And I mean get explicit. Never be afraid to tell it like it is!
I know, it’s the impossible fight. If they can drive safely. Okay.
I don’t mean to categorize every FAS person in the same category. But there are extreme cases we MUST consider!
I mean it’s the governments hopeless economic management that means we must have children working in supermarkets and other retail outlets when they’re not even old enough to look after their own space at home.
So as far as I’m concerned it is the government’s fault, we are sending our kids to their early graves.
Car accidents, drug overdoses, jail, etc…
Sorry, but someone has to say it.
And I will PROUDLY and BOLDLY stand up and give it to these lousy governments right where they deserve it. Right where the sun don’t shine!
They DON’T want to recognize this disorder in (Australian) Parliament, because of their Alcohol lobby mates. And yet they will not, at the very least appoint a specialized Minister to tackle this problem.
Yet they’ll allow Crown Casinos’ to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from overseas. I mean, C’MON! It beggars belief it really does.
The hypocrisy is staggering.
When it came to COVID our Liberal PM miraculously found over $600 BILLION to tackle the health and ensuing economic crisis. Tens of millions of $$$ was “handed-out” to business to keep them afloat. Fair enough.
But equally as many small business’ took the money and ran. I know I’m digressing, but this is also noticed by our FAS kids, who one day will become FAS ADULTS. And the circle of crazy continues.
That’s my point!
So, where the FUCK was our share???!!!
Getting back to it…
Remember your child’s age and divide by two but also do not let them know you are treating them as younger.
We may be 12 but we know you’re treating us like a 6 y.o. Just don’t expect us to tell you. We’ll just sulk and expect you to know.
Having to live up to the expectations of Mum, Dad, the psych, my teacher, my siblings, gran and g’pa, and then there’s the bloody dog.
No wonder we resort to just running amuck, it’s the only way we can get any attention.
“Do I look like I want to play sports? please please do not expect me to get out there with the other kids. Sports means talking and I can’t do that like the other kids do. So why push it? What’s wrong with me staying home and just playing games on the net, reading books, or just doing my own thing in my room.”
Put parental locks on the net so they can’t get into trouble. And so, trouble can’t find them. If they object, simply casually without sounding too authoritarian, so they don’t feel threatened, say something like;
“To protect you my little darling from all the nasties in the world.”
“But I can look after myself, there are no nasties.”
“Ah, my dear but this is why I am the parent and you my little precious are the learner.” “Mother/Father knows best. Trust me on this one. I’m doing what I can to protect you.”
Trust me, the truth comes across loud and clear as opposed to
“Just do as you are told!’
No kid ever will listen to that!
In fact, words like that just raise the walls and then it’s a fight to get that trust back.
  • Suggest something they want to do outside home.
  • A list of potential activities they believe they can do, with or without their age peers.
  • Some FAS kids get along better with much older adults, maybe suggest something along the lines of an activity with the grandparents. If that is unrealistic, ask them?
  • If they say, “I duuno,” offer them a myriad of suggestions to give back to you in their own time. If they don’t get back to you after a time; leave it for about a month. Change the list.
  • Introduce them to musical instruments, sporting equipment, toy trucks, fire engines, police cars, ambulances, army and other defense force toys, cars, dolls, even scientific equipment etc. They don’t have to be expensive.
  • Remember this is not an exercise in impressing them, just finding out what their growing brains are attracted to from a very early age and see what they pick up (with their hands) and that may very well be your answer.
  • Engage yourself more in their quiet moments especially if it looks like they want you to talk to them. E.G. If they’re hanging around and under your feet but they’re being quiet it means they want you to talk to them.
  • Ask questions, not too many all at once. One at a time is the trick.
  • Ask them leading questions without being obvious.
  • Above all privacy is the key. And trust is a must.
FASD kids : finding the middle ground
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