Young Children and Disability

A Product of Disability Access: Empowering Tribal Members with Disabilities & Their Families
by Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc.


Begin by recognizing the child's limits. Do not confuse the ability to repeat rules with the ability to remember and understand them. Although she may say, "Don't go outside", when asked to repeat the rules, realize she is going to do it without thinking. The key phrase there is 'without thinking'. Make the same accommodations that you would for a child with autism who is likely to wander off. Keep the door locked with a lock that is above the child's reach. Use child-safety gates to keep children out of areas you don't want them to play. Don't assume just because your child is sweet and affectionate and repeats what you say that she is going to remember not to go out that door the first time she sees a kitten or any other interesting object outside.

Use the Infant Development Program staff to train people who work with your child, and to assist you. Problems associated with FAS include learning, behavior, attention, problem-solving and social skills. Because of their problems with attention, children with FAS may be diagnosed as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. However, while a child with ADHD or ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) may have problems focusing attention, they generally do not show the same problems with social skills and reasoning that children with FAS do. There are many recommendations throughout the Disability Access website for working with children with attentional problems, from putting all of the child's supplies in the same place every time to having a 'cue', such as a tap on the shoulder or two raised fingers in getting their attention. All of these would be appropriate for children with FAS, however it is also important for everyone working with the child to recognize that problems go beyond being distractible.

Start early teaching your child about appropriate touching and not appropriate touching. As Michael Dorris said in his book on his son with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, The Broken Cord, when children are three years old and they hug and kiss strangers it is cute. When they are fifteen years old it leads to sexual abuse or charges of sexual assault.

For a great deal more information on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, start with our Virtual Field Trip. You'll learn a lot and find it interesting to boot.

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Young Children & Disability Home : Fetal Alcohol Syndrome : Effects on Behavior & Learning : Helping Children with FAS

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