For Families Facing Fears of the Future with FAS/E
by Eva Carner
(Response to a mother of a 12-year-old son with alcohol effects)
This is what has worked well for me with my son, Rick:
1. Put alarms on his door and windows so you can track his movements at night. Don't expect him to have the natual boundaries that most people have for appropriate behavior. You could just have them handy if it seems too extreme to put them up at this time.
2. Protect him from crude, vulgar, criminal and sexualized people, behavior, language and visuals. They do what they see and hear and usually at the worst possible time. Peers are especially important.
3. Role play how to handle social situations. Expectations for social behavior change dramatically as a child enters puberty but children with FAS/E have difficulty adjusting their behavior. Don't expect him to just "know what to do". He has to: be told what to do, be shown what to do and practice what to do repetedly. I would teach him adult standards of behavior because it will take a long time to learn and you won't have to keep reteaching.
4. Don't relax supervision and structure just because he's reached a certain age. Many people feel that the downward spiral that children with FAS/E experience during the adolescent years occurs because as social expectations increase, supervision and assistance decreases, so of course they fail miserably.
5. This is a personal experience of mine. When Rick began to be sexually attracted, he choose exaggerated females as objects of attraction. I'm talking about mature gals with 6 inch heels, black stockings, heavily made up and bursting from their skimpy clothes. He was 10 years old and I was dismayed. I pointed out females that I thought would make more appropriate "girlfriends". The problem was that as he grew he didn't adjust his frame of reference when choosing girls to flirt with and approach. VERY DANGEROUS. I had to reteach cues he could use to judge a girl's maturity. There is some evidence that sexual attraction can be "imprinted", like the baby ducky following the first moving target when it emerges from the egg. You want him to "imprint" on mature females, not on fledglings.
6. Provide many opportunities for safe, secure, supervised social experiences. Clubs, church activities, sports, activites for the disabled, peer mentors and school activites, etc. During the adolescent years they often get left behind by all but the worst members of their peer group.
7. Join the Olderfas mail list. It's for parents of teens and adults
with FAS/E. Since your son is in puberty the issues you will need to
address will be like ours.
Letter from Aaron's Father
Sexuality and FAS
Return to the FAS Community Resource Center