Challenged Hope

Grandmother raising Grandchildren with FASD in Hamilton Ontario Canada

Leave a comment

FASD and Christmas: Beat the Blues.

Ah, the DREADED fasd Christmas vacation!

Tips to beat the FASD Christmas Blues by author, Barbara Studham.

Tips to beat the FASD Christmas Blues

If you are a caregiver to a child with FASD, you know Christmas can be an intolerable time. Children with FASD find Christmas activities overwhelming, causing meltdowns during the event, and leaving their non-FASD siblings resenting such behavior during what they consider the best day of the year. 

FASD and Christmas

Most kids love Christmas: the lights, the laughter, endless gifts, and visits from relatives. Children with FASD are unable to handle such stimulation, and so the caregiver(s) modifies the celebrations to the point of non-existence. I know because I downplayed Christmas for the many years I raised grandchildren with FASD. This, however, robs siblings in the family who don’t have FASD and love the noise and stimulation Christmas brings. So how does one cater to both needs? 

There are ways, but if the caregiver was raised to enjoy Christmas all on one day, it is often difficult to break that cycle of expectation. However, now that you are caregiver to a child with FASD and his/her siblings, your Christmas customs need updating. 

Keeping Christmas fun for the whole family.

  • With an FASD child in your home, understand that Christmas festivities no longer have to be packed into one day. So, invite relatives to celebrate with your family a few days before Christmas when your sitter, or respite worker, is still available. A family party is great for siblings without FASD, but not so much for those with the disorder, so alternative arrangements benefit all children. While the boisterous family gathering is on, low-key time away from the home with the babysitter is appropriate for the FASD child.
  • During the family gathering, exchange gifts, including those from relatives. Your kids will love opening their presents in front of everyone and enjoy hearing the oohs and ahhs without the worry of upsetting their FASD sibling. Children with FASD can find the rustle of ripping paper and squeals of enjoyment, overstimulating, so if you must exchange Christmas morning gifts, keep them to a minimum.
  • Avoid the excitement of Santa’s arrival. He wasn’t mentioned in front of my FASD grandchildren and wasn’t missed. Many children find Santa scary, even more so those with FASD.
  • Prepare that wonderful Christmas dinner, but don’t be disappointed if your child with FASD refuses to eat with the family. Prepare their favorite food, let them know it is available to them when they are ready, but don’t insist they eat typical Christmas fare that triggers their sensory issues simply because it is Christmas. Don’t be offended if he/she prefers to eat in their room. The non-FASD siblings will enjoy the family meal knowing their FASD sibling is as happy as they.

The above tips are simply my way of saying keep Christmas fun for all the kids. You know your FASD child, and what he/she can tolerate, but be aware that your non-FASD child has Christmas expectations. Being prepared before the day arrives helps heighten family fun, and lessen those Christmas blues! 

Merry Christmas to all my readers! 

Barbara Studham’s bio.

For the past twenty years, Barbara Studham parented four grandchildren, all diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Her two memoirs: Two Decades of Diapers, and, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, The Teen Years, describe her challenges during their toddler years and teens. She has also written fiction, including a six-book series titled, Under The Shanklin Sky, set in the seaside town of Shanklin, on the Isle of Wight. She is currently creating a children’s FASD picture book series Strawberry  & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Now available is the first in the series titled The School Day.

Barbara Studham’s books are available from AMAZON.

Author blog:

FASD blog:

Amazon Author Page:


Leave a comment

FASD Teens and Change in Routine

Teens with FASD struggle, just a much as youngsters with FASD, with change in daily routines, tasks, and unexpected schedules like: medical appointments, outings, bus trips, trips to the hairstylist or clothing stores; anything or anywhere which is not part of their everyday habits. One way to combat their stress and potential behaviour issues during such changes is to explain in advance what their week will look like and what will be involved via a chart posted to the fridge.

My teen grandchildren with mental disabilities always ask how long the appointment or errand will last but, as they have difficulty understanding time, I try to describe time in events, not hours, such as: “We will be back by lunch/supper/bed time.” For some reason, when they have the return time locked in, they are much more comfortable with the idea of going somewhere, or doing something unexpected which tells me just how much they see their home as a foundation of security and the outside world as an intimidating place. The assurance of the return to their home seems to be the deciding factor to their agreeing to the change in routine, and lessens the anxiety they might otherwise experience during an outside event.