Fetal Alcohol Effects: How to Help Your Child

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Topic Overview

To help your toddler or school-age child who has effects from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) :

  • Take your child to routine doctor visits.
  • Provide a structured home environment. Children with FASD do best in a home that has a defined routine and structure. The rules for the family (What is a PDF document?) need to be clear and frequently repeated for the child.
  • Enroll your child in an early-intervention program as soon as possible. Laws in the United States protect the right to education of all children. This includes those who have conditions that can interfere with learning, such as FASD. These laws protect a parent's right to be fully informed about educational decisions that concern his or her child. Also, the laws protect a parent's rights when he or she disagrees with any decision. Contact your state and local education departments about your child's right to get help at school. Physical, occupational, and/or speech therapy may be part of the program.
  • Help your child learn appropriate behavior. If your child has attention problems, has difficulty controlling his or her impulses, and is overactive, he or she may benefit from the same treatment measures that are appropriate for children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) , such as behavior management and social skills training.
  • Encourage your child's independence. Help your child learn cause and effect by role-playing situations with different reactions and outcomes.
  • Encourage learning skills. Provide learning experiences using things your child can touch (tactile strategies) and things he or she can do (kinesthetic strategies). Your child's memory may improve if he or she uses a computer or tape recorder instead of simply listening and taking handwritten notes in class.
  • Talk to teachers and other people who are involved in your child's life. Tell them how they can best help your child.
  • Call your doctor if you think your child needs more help or if you notice new problems.

Related Information


Other Works Consulted

  • Senturias Y, Weitzman CC (2011). Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. In M Augustyn et al., eds., Zuckerman Parker Handbook of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics for Primary Care, 3rd ed., pp. 213-217. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.


ByHealthwise Staff

Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics

Specialist Medical Reviewer Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics

Current as ofMay 4, 2017