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Early Childhood: Recognizing and Reframing

Prenatal alcohol exposure can impact a child’s brain structure, size and functioning.

Learn how to help your child be successful in early childhood.

Birth to Age 5

Recognizing and Reframing

Won't vs. Can't

Reframing the way you see and respond to challenging behaviors can help both you and your child. Sometimes, it may seem like their behavior is merely oppositional, stubborn or defiant. But a reframed understanding of the child’s neurological deficits allows you to change the approach and set your child up for greater success.

Making Sense of the Senses

Many children impacted by an FASD will have difficulty taking information into their brain from the environment around them, interpreting and organizing that information, and then responding to it appropriately.

They may have what is often called Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) or Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID) and this can affect their behavior.

SPDs or SIDs occur when the brain misreads information from the following senses:

  • Sight
  • Hearing
  • Taste
  • Touch/Tactile
  • Smell
  • Proprioceptive (feedback from muscles, movement and body position)
  • Vestibular (balance and movement)
Try Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists can be a tremendous help in addressing problems related to sensory processing disorders. 

  • An evaluation for OT services will likely include a sensory profile you’ll need to fill out related to your child’s sensory seeking or sensory avoiding behaviors. The sensory profile can help you reframe behaviors as brain differences instead of defiant or willful behaviors.

Seeing the Invisible Disability

When caregivers can learn to reframe challenging behaviors, they can respond more effectively. It’s important to recognize that the child’s behavior is likely a result of their brain deficits and the behavior is communicating a need.

When we learn to “see” the invisible disability behind the behaviors, we are able to shift our perspective and help children impacted by an FASD reach their greatest potential.

*For a more detailed description of reframing, see Diane Malbin’s book, Trying Differently Rather Than Harder or visit her website at Diane Malbin is a clinical social worker, author and birth mother of an adult child with an FASD.