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In A Perfect World

In a perfect world, everyone would understand FASD and it would not result in secondary trauma.

From correspondence with a caregiver of early adolescents living with FASD:

Observe, observe, observe. Observe without judging or even trying to think of immediate solutions. Observe throughout the day, when things are going well and when they are not. Observation and curiosity will give you surprisingly useful information.

Trauma and FASD occur together. It is practically impossible to separate the results of various kinds of trauma; the effects of any early adversity may resemble the emotional effects of FASD. Trauma and FASD cause characteristics unique to each person, both positive and negative. Trauma treatment may be a first step to address mental health issues for a person with FASD.

‘Trauma informed’ is being recognized as an essential viewpoint across all social fields. For our families, FASD informed is essential in treatment. When treatment focuses on repeatedly reviewing and recalling specific traumatic events, the person may come to define themselves as traumatized. To heal, then, means giving up one’s identity. It is more effective to give trauma a name, validate feelings, identify unhelpful responses as problems, and move those problems outside the identity of the person. The person is not the problem; the unhealthy response is the problem. The person has skills that have allowed them to get where they are despite the problem. Focus on those skills and strengths and ways they can be adapted to help with current and new situations. Problems can be managed. Effective therapy enhances the person’s problem management skills.

One of those skills may be the ability to hold things together while away from home. Later, when safe at home, comes the decompression from all the stress and exhaustion of holding it together. Think of how a two-year-old is ‘fine’ at daycare and falls to sobbing the minute they see mom. It may be almost superhuman effort that keeps behaviour appropriate away from home. Many caregivers who are that safe person are on the receiving end of the maelstrom of decompression. The safety to let go may result in hurtful actions. First of all, be sure you are safe, physically and emotionally. Then be curious about the source of those actions. Observe and help the person find better ways to meet that need for decompression.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]