Negative Behaviours

Children with FASD often struggle with behavioural expectations more than typically developing children. These behavioural issues can persist into adolescence and adulthood and, in some cases, may even worsen. Many of the behavioural problems identified for individuals with FASD may contribute to the emergence of adverse outcomes

Behavioural concerns reported by researchers include:

Behaviour challenges are often linked to difficulties in other areas, such as environmental factors, mental health issues, developmental delays, and executive function deficits. A child who does not do what is asked may appear to be defiant, when really there may be a language problem, memory problem, or a lack of understanding that prevents them from doing the task, Self harming behaviours may be due to frustration and the need to feel “in control”, Delinquency, poor social behaviours, and risky behaviours may stem from the individual’s difficulties understanding consequences or deciphering social information. Overall, observed behavioural challenges may reflect a combination of factors - by asking questions and considering possible explanations we might better identify the function of that behaviour and be best equipped to respond effectively.

  • Decreased social difficulties
  • Avoiding victimization and/or involvement with the “wrong crowd”
  • Improvement in school and social situations
  • Decreased trouble with the law and criminal behaviour

When children with FASD exhibit negative behaviours, they are often labeled as “bad children”. Since many individuals with FASD often do not have any visible physical impairment, it is easy to misattribute negative behaviours to willful disobedience or poor character traits. These behaviours need to be attributed to brain damage rather than poor character. Working together we may increase our understanding of observed behaviour, and begin to consider how success might be achieved for the individual given their unique profile of strengths and difficulties.


Why Typical Behavioural Approaches May Not Work
Video presentation by Nathan Ory: Why typical behavioural approaches may not work for kids with FASD; ideas for effective intervention strategies (from POPFASD)

How To Divert Someone You Cannot Confront Without an Explosion?
In this paper, Nathan E. Ory, M.A., offers and understanding of why the certain behaviours occur and how to avoid explosive episodes (from POPFASD)

Why Kids Steal
Video presentation by Nathan Ory on reasons why kids steal (from POPFASD)

Dealing With Stealing
Video presentation by Nathan Ory: Strategies and approaches to use when kids steal (from POPFASD)

Reach to Teach: Educating Elementary and Middle School Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
FASD overview and strategies for improving school success– reviews FASD, cognitive challenges, social skills, negative behaviours, environmental accommodation (from SAMHSA)
Information on sensory difficulties: pp. 27-28

Understanding Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD): A Comprehensive Guide For Pre-K -8 Educators
FASD overview, teaching and learning strategies for the classroom (Written by Chandra D. Zieff, M.Ed. and Rochelle D. Schwartz-Bloom, Ph.D.)
Negative behaviours: pp. 76-95

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Education Strategies: Working with Students with a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in the Education System
Teaching strategies from NOFAS and University of South Dakota; contents include environmental modification, functional assessment, communication, executive function, social skills and behaviour. Resource listings in appendices include: general FASD information, teaching, social emotional books for children, social emotional books for young adults, audiovisual resources and websites
Social skills and behaviour: Section 7, pp. 121-132

Overcoming Resistive Behaviour by Letting it be Their Idea! -Nathan E. Ory
Ory offers suggestions as to how to overcome resistant reactions (from POPFASD)

Medication Management in FASD
Video webinar with handouts by Dr.David Shih: Contains information on steps to take before using medications, medication for treating insomnia, aggression, anxiety disorders, ADHD and mood disorders in FASD as well as what these medications can and cannot do (from FASD CMC Alberta)

Creating a Brain-Friendly Life
Video webinar with handouts by Karmen Krahn Schulties. Discusses the "Brain Boxes" program regarding behavioural strategies (from FASD CMC Alberta)

Animal Assisted Therapy and Clients with FASD
Video webinar with handouts presented by Kristine Aanderson. Discusses therapy for individuals with disabilities using animals and the possible benefits of this kind of therapy, including decreased physical agression (from FASD CMC Alberta)

Motivation and Learning
Video presentation by Nathan Ory on strategies to motivate learning- contains information on positive reinforcement (from POPFASD)

Making a Difference: Working with Students who have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
Comprehensive guide- How to adapt teaching methods to help students affected by FASD in the classroom environment. Includes information on FASD, structure, behaviour, sensory difficulties, language, academics, social skills, and transitions (from Yukon Deartment of Education)
Behaviour information beginning in section 5

Teaching Students with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: Building Strengths, Creating Hope (Programming for Students with Special Needs: Book 10)
Overview of FASD; Concepts for teaching and strategies to help with learning needs (from Alberta Education)
Behaviour information: pp. 51-69; 81-82

Brief Guidelines for Caregivers Supporting Persons Who Are Emotionally Fragile
Written by Nathan E. Ory, M.A.- Practical information for caregivers to maintain control when working with individuals who are emotionally fragile, working through change or crisis and are exhibiting testing behaviour (i.e. with new caregivers) (from POPFASD)

How You Give Choices and Ask Questions Makes a Difference
Practical information written by Nathan E. Ory on how to offer choice with proper wording to avoid defiance, refusals, and anxiety (from POPFASD)

How to Give Choices to Someone Who May Violently Resist Guidance and Suggestions
Practical tips (written by Nathan E. Ory, M.A.) on how to offer choices with individuals who may react violently (from POPFASD)

How to Respond To What Appears To Be Lying
Nathan E. Ory, M.A., explains causes and ways to respond to lying behaviour (From POPFASD)

Overcoming Resistive Behaviour by Letting It Be Their Idea!
Written by Nathan E. Ory, M.A. (from POPFASD)

Case study: Stealing- A Counterfeit Conduct Disorder
Written by Nathan E. Ory, M.A. Offers information on why individuals steal and strategies for change (from POPFASD)

Who Has to Change? Trying Their Hardest, Doing Their Best!
Nathan E. Ory describes FASD behaviours and the need for a shift in our perception of the behaviours of those with FASD (from POPFASD)

FASD and Standard Interventions: Poor Fits?
Paper by Diane Malbin M.S.W. discussing the need to understand and consider brain dysfunction when intervening with behaviour (from BCAEA)


Behaviour Management
Behaviour management resources page for individuals with special needs (from Do2Learn)

Social and Behavioural Skills
Social and Behavioural skills picture cards for individuals with special needs (from Do2Learn)