Article: Early Childhood: Birth to Age 5
Early Childhood: Navigating Daily Life
Young children with an FASD often have difficulty taking information into their brain from the environment around them, and small changes in routine or daily structure may cause them to feel overwhelmed. As a caregiver, you can provide guidance and support to help your child navigate daily life.
Is it FASD?
Looking for FASD in a child under 5 can be a challenge since FASD can look like other developmental disabilities in young children. Knowing if there was prenatal alcohol exposure can help correctly diagnose a child. Young children with an FASD can show signs of:
- Hearing or vision problems1, 2
- Poor coordination (gross or fine motor skills)3
- Sensitivity to light, touch, or sound4
Seeing the Invisible Disability: Reframe
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.*
Won’t versus 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.
1 Stephen JM, Kodituwakku PW, Kodituwakku EL, Romero L, Peters AM, Sharadamma NM, Caprihan A, Coffman BA. Delays in auditory processing identified in preschool children with FASD. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research. 2012;36(10):1720-1727.
2 Vernescu RM, Adams RJ, Courage ML. Children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder show an amblyopia-like pattern of vision deficit. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology. 2012;54(6):557-562.
3 Taggart TC, Simmons RW, Thomas JD, Riley EP. Children with Heavy Prenatal Alcohol Exposure Exhibit Atypical Gait Characteristics. Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. 2017;41(9):1648-1655.
4 Masotti P, Longstaffe S, Gammon H, Isbister J, Maxwell B, Hanlon-Dearman A. Integrating care for individuals with FASD: results from a multi-stakeholder symposium. BMC Health Services Research. 2015;15(1):1-12.
* For a more detailed description of reframing, see Diane Malbin’s book, Trying Differently Rather Than Harder or visit her website at www.fascets.org. Diane Malbin is a clinical social worker, author and birth mother of an adult child with an FASD.