We pulled together the above poster after some interesting discussions in social media. Meltdowns continue to be among the most challenging aspects of FASD. It takes conscious effort to avoid them – for those with FASD and those who support them. The very first post on this blog, nearly a year ago, was about meltdowns. Since then we have learned a bit more about about how the brain influences behaviors, and we have become better, but not perfect, in our efforts to support our son before things truly blast off.
Savanna Pietrantonio is an adult with FASD. It was reading her 8 Reasons for FASD Meltdowns that first helped us to see these from a different perspective, to better understand that our son’s behaviors were not deliberate disobedience. She wrote:
“I have to learn to respect the meltdown as a symptom of brain damage. I am not being willful, rebellious, purposely destructive or hateful. My brain is telling me that something is wrong and I need to stop everything and ask for help to both get through daily life and to regulate my emotions.”
Diane Malbin is a leading expert on these issues, the video below offers a different lens to see the behaviors of people with FASD, and describes how the brain structures influence behaviors, as does her book – Trying Differently, Not Harder (also available via Amazon).
There’s much more to say about this topic, but we wanted to just quickly offer this poster as a visual support for those who struggle to avoid FASD meltdowns.
We are well aware we don’t have all the answers. We welcome suggestions and advice from adults with FASD and others on how to avoid meltdowns.
Available to download for home printing: FASD Meltdown Poster (PDF)
By FASD_Mum and FASD_Dad
We don’t normally do posts like this, but we were both riveted to the screen this morning. This is a perceptive and authoritative video explaining Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and the life-long impact even small quantities of alcohol can have on children before they are born. If you would like to better understand our child, and others like him, please give yourself 26 minutes to watch this film. The young 10-year-old girl in this film could be our son.
And please, support those around you who are or may become pregnant by helping them to avoid alcohol during those precious months. Experts in this video show the proof that even a small amount of alcohol in utero at the wrong point in development can have profound and enduring effects on a child. And please also encourage our societies to help meet the needs of those loved ones who are struggling every day of their lives with this hidden disability.
It was only after our child’s FASD diagnosis that we understood that his meltdowns were not ‘bad behavior’. Instead, they are a direct result of the damage done to his brain when he was in utero. We understand now the key is to try to prevent reaching the point where a meltdown is imminent. Sometimes we manage to redirect the moment. Sometimes we are tired, or grumpy, or not paying attention and we handle it all wrong. We all try to “Take 5” – five, very conscious deep breaths when the mood starts to spiral. We try. And yet, spectacular meltdowns occur almost daily – things sailing across the room, accompanied by increasingly spicy vocabulary, gestures, and appalling rudeness. Deep distress and frustration boils out and over us all. But now we know none of this is heartfelt or intentional on his part. His brain just can’t stop it at this moment. The important thing is not to hold a grudge, because our child has a remarkable and admirable capacity to move on from such moments, to spring back with a great big hug and an “I’m sorry.” Continue reading “Meltdowns”