Speaking specifically to the FASD label (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder), I have parented three types of FASD kids, two of which are managable, one that is not. My categories certainly are not scientific – they are only based on personal experience.
One is the confused, struggling child who has trouble in relationships, school, and every day living skills – they have trouble understanding “cause and effect.” They are very frustrating to live with but are managable for the most part. These are the ones who make the same mistakes over and over and don’t think before they speak or act. “I don’t know,” comes out of their mouth more than anything else. Though you have trouble reasoning with them, they pretty much only hurt themselves in their habit of going from one negative experience to another, never really connecting the dots. When this child meets the Savior, they immediately see their sinfulness because they’ve known all along they are empty and sinful. They will always struggle with spiritual growth because they lack the ability to sustain a thought for any length of time. These are the kids that are often seen by others as having a “big heart.” They are very good at putting on a “show” for others. According to the Bible, they could be categorized as “simple.” These kids are not normally dangerous to the parent, though they would be the ones to complain about how mean the parent is and during times of anger expressing how much they hate the parent. As long as things are going well for this child, they can be very amiable and easy to live with.
The second is the one who live their life with a careless abandon that often results in running over everyone in their way. They’re not purposely attacking anyone, they just are running at high speed considering only their needs and opinions. They are either highly excitable or tend to be passive agressive. These are the type that say, “I forgot,” translated, “I just didn’t care.” It’s hard to reason with them because they “just don’t get it.” These kids can be very shallow and cause others to shake their head in disbelief. The school of hard knocks is usually the only way they learn to live by a set of standards and it’s only out of self preservation. It can take them years to manage their life in a way that they can live peacefully and stay out of trouble. They tend to be very self absorbed and hurt others by their lack of consideration. In their world there are only two people – themselves and the person they want something from or they consider is in their way.
When these children experience spiritual regeneration, you see a marked difference in their understanding of God’s expectations and standards of right and wrong. All of a sudden they understand their focus has been wrong but feel powerless to change. These are the children that are often seen by others as being “live wires,” “drama queens,” or “pouters.” Most people can pick them out of a crowd as being a trouble maker. The Bible term for this child when they are out of control is “rebellious.” These children can be dangerous to the parent simply because they tend to blame others for their mistakes. To cover up or explain their poor decisions, this child may tell others around them that the parent was abusive and will go so far as to call up the authorities to make such claims in order to soothe their conscience. They have an overwhelming need to have others’ approval. Later when confronted over this disloyal or dishonest behavior, they will usually lie about it or explain it away with the excuse that it was during their “bad” time but they know better now.
The third category of FASD children is the type that is causing adoptive families to fall into peril. I believe Satan is priming his Last Day’s army using this third type. They are the ones with no conscience. They can stare you in the face and tell you they didn’t do something even though you are holding the evidence right in front of them. They set people up to get hurt and enjoy watching the pain they’ve inflicted. They are right and everyone around them is wrong. They will keep going in their self deceit until either they, or the one standing in their way of what they want falls and they really don’t care which one it is – them or you. They can rise to any occasion and put on any face that will get them what they want. They think they are tougher than everyone else and are in perfect control of their actions when it suits their needs. They truly believe every false word that comes out of their mouth.
The moment this child realizes their physical dominance, the end has come in the parent’s ability to control this child’s behavior. There is no pliable heart that can be won. These are the kids who may eventually be labeled “sociopath” and will probably end up in jail. The Bible calls these children, “scorners.” In their mind,they are the center of the universe and everyone ought to serve them. All of their bad behavior is written off as justified because they believe they have been unfairly treated. They only remember the discipline, not their behavior that warranted the discipline. Not only will they tell others they were abused when they were not, but they will gloat to others that they “got Mom and Dad in trouble.” These children are very good at twisting the truth and telling it in a believable manner. They are very confused and deluded individuals who can be a danger to anyone that gets in their way.
There is no way anyone can know which category an alcohol exposed child will end up in if they are adopted very young. Adoptive parents go into the parent/child relationship trying to meet every need of the child and sometimes it just can’t be done. Often the families with these type of children feel very isolated because the behaviors are so extreme it takes every ounce of their being just to manage them. Constant supervision and trying to anticipate every move is very wearing on a parent especially if they are feeling condemned by others. It is a very tough position to be in. A parent wants to know that they have been successful in their child rearing efforts. To many, parental success means seeing their child grow up to be a strong, successful godly adult that aspires to change the world with their presence. To many adoptive parents of these very difficult children, success simply means both they and their child lived through the growing up years.