When a child or loved one receives a diagnosis of an FASD, the entire family unit is affected. All members of the household need to be educated on the disability as well as strategies that work and don’t work.

One of the most important needs of a family is support. Emotional support can be found in parent/caregiver support groups. SoCal NOFAS offers a monthly support group for parents and caregivers on the 2nd Tuesday of the month from 6:30-8pm. Please join our “Friends of SoCal NOFAS” list to be notified of the support group meeting as well as any other family activities, seminars and conferences.

Families and households also need to learn how to re-structure the home environment, so the individual that is affected with an FASD fits in better. We don’t want to keep trying to put the square peg in the round hole. We want to “try differently,” as Diane Malbin would say. Here are just a few of the many insights offered in Diane’s book, Trying Differently Rather Than Harder:

• Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is an invisible disability
• Re-define normal; make it a wider more inclusive concept
• Re-define success; concentrate on strengths and get off the punishment roller coaster
• FASD is a brain based birth defect caused by alcohol
• Think younger – chronological age does not equal developmental age
• Lower your expections; spending a lot of time and energy to change them serves no one
• Change their environment; make the home fit the child, not the child fit the home

The National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) offers many tips and Fact Sheets to share with those involved in the individual’s life to help them achieve success. To see more click here.

Early intervention can make a big difference for affected individuals. Families of children ages 0 to 5 years may be able to get services such as speech and language or play therapy through programs like Early Start and preschool services for “at-risk” children. For foster and adoptive families, the agency that places the child can help connect families to services.

For additional family resources, such as support groups, click here.