Occasionally I run across things that I just have to share. This is one of those times. People need to be informed. Most likely you, my reader, are one of them. Here you go, lesson #1…

Below is my comment on my Adoptive Families’ FAS Yahoo Support Group. One of the moms said she thought her son would do better if he could see immediate and appropriate consequences when he saw other kids get caught stealing. Below is my response and then below that is hers.

“Well, I’ve had a lot of kids mess up and my younger kids watched and even though they saw the consequences, they still did the same thing themselves. I never understood why they wouldn’t learn from seeing others suffer consequences. They just always either didn’t think they’d get caught or didn’t think before they did it. “

Here is her excellent explanation of the typical behavior of a FASD kid – friends, welcome to MY world:

“You are right….., I agree with you completely on this.  As a matter of fact, this particular behavioral feature (not learning from consequences) is what seems to me to distinguish FASD.  So, when I said: ‘I postulate that if he had seen others steal, and seen them get caught, and seen them suffer some unpleasant consequences, he would have avoided doing the same.  Seeing is believing. All else is just conjecture, and does not apply.’  

I should have said: ‘If he had seen someone steal the money and get caught and punished immediately, he might have decided not to try stealing the money from the same place in that situation, as least not right away.  As long as he knows that there was someone watching everyone’s every move, ready to immediately punish every act of thievery, then he would behave himself most of the time…. except when he was really mad, had a strong feeling that he deserved to have whatever he would be stealing, and thought that he had a good chance of not getting caught…. i.e. no one is looking.’

In residential treatment settings, my son rarely ever steals anything.  At home, even with locks on every cupboard and door that contained forbidden items, he was constantly trying take anything that he wanted any time he was upset about anything.  He did the same at school, but he was even more sneaky about it. 

The therapist at the residential home apparently thinks that he is reformed, because he has stopped stealing.  Knowing him and FASD as I do, I am thinking that this may be short sighted.  It seems to me that it is only the fact that 2 staff watch EVERY move of EVERYONE 24/7.  He has stopped this behavior because the environment has been modified to meet his needs.  (thus the need for the “external bodies” to monitor in order to ensure proper behavior)  

In written reports, while admitting that he has “not yet internalized” the lessons he has learned in therapy, his therapist maintains the words “not yet” which imply that he is going to do this, can do this, and is expected to any moment internalize these things that he can speak so well about. 

 This is the reason I think FASD training is so important for professionals serving our kids.”