Challenged Hope

Grandmother raising Grandchildren with FASD in Hamilton Ontario Canada

Leave a comment

FASD Feelings

Kids with FASD often believe their feelings or opinions are worthless, therefore it’s important to distinguish and label emotions so the individual can more easily recognize and express their feelings. offers a booklet titled: FASD Strategies and Solutions. There I found a page on Feelings and Emotions which reads: “…. teach emotions in a concrete way (e.g. smiling means happy).”

  • A “check-in” time for internal feelings will help in stating which feelings are physical and concrete.
  • After an outburst, talk about what your child felt during the meltdown; for example, a beating heart, sweaty hands, hot face. Attach the concrete feeling to the meltdown so she can begin to identify what feelings are connected to certain behaviours.
  • In order to be able to act appropriately to any emotion, your child must first have some way to recognize concretely what she is feeling. That feeling must then be named and “rules” for appropriate reaction to that feeling must be made.
  • Create a “feelings” dictionary, using line-drawings of complete stick men rather than just facial expressions for those most common feelings the child is likely to experience. A complete body can show more than just a face and is much easier for the child to associate with what he is feeling. Have one emotion per page.
  • Always name emotions very clearly. With teens and adults, name the emotion first and then follow with the words their friend’s use (“angry” vs. “pissed off”).
  • To encourage emotional expression, use a gingerbread man outline drawing and simple colour codes (e.g. red for anger, blue for sad, yellow for happy, and gray for blank). Have your child colour on the gingerbread man where he has those feelings. This can give you a quick and immediate idea of the state of emotional health (e.g., red in the head and the hands is a good indicator of being ready to “lose it”; gray in the head and on the body is a good indication of being “shut down”). this will help, especially when the child is not able to verbalize her thoughts and feelings.
  • Once the feeling is identified correctly, have a simple plan to help the child. For instance:
  1. “Losing it” – use calm down technique.
  2. Caregiver is “ticked off” – stand still, look at caregiver and listen.
  3. “Tired” – lie down and rest.
  4. “Frustrated” – have a list of physical activities that she can do and have her choose between two.
  5. “Angry” – express it physically in a previously identified acceptable and safe manner.

Do not expect: 

  • Insight
  • Application of yesterday’s learning to today’s experiences
  • That the child will remember a feeling from one time to the next without support.

The child will not necessarily be able to understand the emotions of others just because we were not able to help her understand her own.



Leave a comment

Hamilton Health Sciences: McMaster Children’s Hospital

If, like me, you are raising a mentally challenged child, you might benefit from the various courses and workshops available to caregivers through the McMaster Children’s Hospital, Chedoke Site, and its community partners.

When my grandchildren were young and it was determined they had ADHD, FAS, and behaviour issues, I enrolled in several workshops over a period of approximately two years, sometimes taking two classes at a time. Not only did I find the programmes helpful by offering me strategies to use during challenging situations with my grandchildren, but they also made me aware of the struggles the children themselves face on a daily basis. And, of course, I met other caregivers in similar situations to mine and found their stories interesting while offering me the comfort that I was “not alone”. Please check out for information on the workshops and courses available. In addition to the programmes and workshops, there are resources available through the Family Resource Centre, located on the 1st floor of the Evel Building at the Chedoke site in Hamilton, Ontario. This provides a large number of reading materials along with other resources related to parenting and child development. Well worth the visit!

Update! One of my grandchildren just brought home from school the latest Guide from McMaster Children’s Hospital. It’s called Growing Together and offers many courses, some offered previously and some new. There are pre-natal programmes for young mothers, teens, and parents plus workshops and courses for parents/caregivers of children 6-8 years of age, such as: COPEing with Toddler Behaviour, Stuttering in the Young Child, 1-2-3 Magic, and the Incredible Years. There are also workshops and courses for parents/caregivers of children 6-12 years of age, such as: COPEing with ADHD, kNOw Fear, Temper Tamers, Managing Meltdowns, and a Lone Mother with Kids Recreation Program. The workshops and courses for parents/caregivers of teens 12-18 years of age offer Parent Support Workshops, COPEing with Teens. For children of any age there is an Autism Spectrum Disorder Presentation, a programme for The Quiet Child, and another for Parenting Your Anxious Child.

There are also workshops for the children and teens to attend like: Kids Klub, GRUB Club, Towards No Drug Abuse, and Teen Talk. There are also many adult programmes offered for Self-Help, Relationship and Marriage issues.

The above is just a sampling of courses offered, so if you would like to know more about the Growing Together programmes offered in Hamilton, Ontario, please visit or call 905-521-2100 extension 77243.