Anger and Violence
Individuals with FASD may have problems controlling anger and frustration, as well as having problems understanding the motives of others. They are prone to anger outbreaks, tantrums, yelling or becoming extremely upset. These traits may lead teens or adults with FASD to violent behavior. Statistically, teenagers and adults with FASD are more likely to be involved with the criminal justice system than their peers are.
Lack of impulse control and inability to predict consequences can cause a person with FASD to quickly escalate to a rage when they are frustrated about something. The most important thing that parents, caregivers, and educators can do when the person with FASD is angry is to prevent the rage or the potentially violent or threatening situation. Remove items that could be used as weapons.
Strategies to avoid rages vary depending on the age and maturity of the individual.
When an individual with FASD becomes oppositional, upset, or angry, if the adult authority figure uses a stronger (louder or more forceful) demand; i.e., “You better do it!”, rather than leading to compliance and obedience, the result is more than likely increased resistance, defiance, anger, and melt-down. Sometimes the melt-down leads to violence and/or or running away. This pattern is exhausting for parents, and potentially dangerous for the child, teenager or adult with FASD.
- Remember that persons with FASD cannot self-regulate without coaching—if they could, they would.
- Keep in mind that persons affected by FASD cannot access their coping skills without reminders, prompts, coaching, help moving down the arousal scale, and practice.
- Be proactive—teach the person with FASD stress management and anger management skills, practice them, and practice or role-play coaching them—watch for signs of a meltdown before it becomes full-fledged.
- Be low-key, matter-of-fact, and remain calm—a raised voice can feel abusive to an individual with FASD.