A Story of Families Moving Forward in Action

In the words of an FMF Specialist:

Where do I begin to tell this story? I honestly feel that I’ve been inspired and touched by each of the families affected with FASD with whom I’ve worked, and that each family has their own compelling story.

However, one family comes to mind. This is a family consisting of a paternal grandmother who had adopted her three grandchildren (ages 10, 7, and 5 years), all of whom were prenatally exposed to alcohol and had trauma histories. Her children had been receiving individual therapy at our agency for over a year, but she was still struggling to manage their behavioral problems.

This grandmother began participating in the FMF Program with one of our clinicians in the autumn. She was consistent in her attendance and, though she had difficulty completing the home activities, she was engaged in the intervention. About 2/3 of the way through the FMF intervention, her case was transferred to me because the clinician had to take a medical leave. I began working with this grandmother, reviewing the concepts she had presumably learned up to that point. She had been through so much in the previous year, having lost her husband and needing to move in with an adult son and his family. But I was amazed at her commitment to continue with the intervention and apply the concepts to her children. She had learned to reframe their behaviors from defiance and willful disobedience to struggles with inattention and impulsivity… which helped her identify appropriate parenting strategies (talking calmly, using simple instructions) and environmental accommodations (minimizing distractions, allowing for frequent breaks) to decrease their problem behaviors. She also was able to utilize the learned material to advocate for her youngest child to obtain a 504 plan in school. She was instrumental in developing a collaborative relationship with his teacher to help increase the teacher understand his deficits. This grandmother also shared information with her adult son and other family members to help them better understand the children.

When this grandmother completed FMF in early summer of the next year, she was a different caregiver: one who felt empowered to help her children function better in their home through her new parenting approach, as well as one who would be an effective advocate to help obtain resources and services to continue to improve their overall functioning.

Overall, FMF has numerous advantages in terms of helping parents, but its biggest advantages are helping increase a parent’s empathy for their child, increase the use of positive parenting strategies, and increase advocacy skills. These skills can empower parents to take actions to put their child’s life on a more positive course.

Minor details of this story have been altered to protect family identity and clarify the text. The author of this story has approved these changes.

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