Things that DO NOT work
There are many things that don’t work in our interactions with children affected by FASD. Parents, service providers, and teachers might try these strategies because they don’t understand that a child affected by FASD needs a very different approach. These strategis do not work:

  • repeated instructions
  • ignoring the behaviour that is causing the problem
  • lecturing
  • trying to give logical consequences for behaviour
  • time outs
  • punishment

Things that DO work
Fortunately, there are also lots of things that can really help in our interactions with children affected by FASD. They need constant, secure, loving care. A home with structure, repetition, and routine will make both the child’s life and the parent’s life easier.

Advise parents and caregivers to keep things to a minimum and to have specific places where things belong. Clothes, toys, and books need to be put away and out of sight when not in use. And the best structure is the caregiver. The parent or caregive can be the constant in their child’s life.

Work with parents and caregivers to be patient. Advise them to be ready to repeat directions. Give directions one at a time. Use pictures to sequence activities. Post them to give visual cues for their child. Build their child’s spirit by saying “I love you” as often as possible.


Parents and caregivers should try to keep the same routines. (Use this example: at bedtime, put on pj’s, brush teeth, read a story, kiss goodnight, lights out – they could have these pictures by their child’s bed as one way to show how activities are sequenced.) If there’s going to be a change in routine, let them know in advance. Everyone in the family benefits from a consistent routine.

Here is what a parent in one of our communities had to say about the need for routine:

Audio Transcription:

“The parenting skills I had didn’t work with my son. I had to relearn everything from scratch because none of the other stuff I knew applied to his situation. And a lot of what I learned about how to deal with him, I really learned just through trial and error. It was through a lot of experimenting that I had to find out what worked and what didn’t work for him. I found out that our home environment has to be very quiet and very structured. His routine is very structured from day to day.”

Remember: Everyone has their own unique gifts. Encourage parents and caregivers to find out what their child likes to do and does well, like sports, arts, music, writing, or talking. If they have something that they really like and succeed in, they will be happier children. Encourage them to pursue their gifts.

Remember: No two people are the same. FASD affects everyone differently. If parents or caregivers are having difficulty with some aspect of their child’s life, encourage them to try different things. If something is not working, try something else. Support them to keep trying until they find something that does work for their child. This becomes their motto: Try different, not harder.

Here is what a parent in one of our communities had to say about the trying different, not harder:

Audio Transcription:

“When I first started having my nephew living with me, I thought there was no light at the end of the tunnel. But there is. It’s been over a year since he’s had an outburst and that’s a big accomplishment. It took six years, but he graduated from high school and I am so proud of him! It’s just a really slow process and you need to take the time and make modifications to what you’re doing and how you’re dealing with someone with FASD to find out what works best. It’s different for everybody. My advice to another parent would be to keep on experimenting and find out what works best for your child. What works for us won’t work for others. My kind of rule for myself is that I try something for a month and see if it works. If it does, great. If it doesn’t, then I try a different approach.”

Want more information about things that do and do not work with children affected by FASD ? Check this out:

Lifeguard Strategies For Supporting Adolescents and Adults Affected by FASD