Struggles teens with FAS faceFetal alcohol syndrome can bring several challenges as infants grow into young children and teens. The teen years bring an expected level of conflict, rebellion, and behavioral changes. The challenges can change for a teen diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome and become much more severe and problematic. Some of these challenges could include the following:
- Memory problems can become a concern for adolescents with FAS, particularly short-term memory. This can become a problem for teens to stay on task or keep their train of thought. Memory problems can lead to being forgetful about boundaries and consequences.
- Executive function is the term used to describe the brain functions that we use to plan ahead and behave appropriately when working towards goals. It can also lead a teen to struggle with organizing his thoughts, motivating himself, impulse control, prioritizing, and being able to determine the consequences of each of his actions and decisions.
- Risk-taking behavior is already a concern in most teens. Teens with FAS, because they can’t necessarily control their impulses and identify what the negative consequences of their actions and behaviors might be, are at a higher risk of making those risky decisions.
- Understanding appropriate social cues can become a problem for teens because the damage to their brains doesn’t allow them to fully understand how to read facial expressions, understand social cues, and learn how to respond appropriately. For example, a teen may misinterpret fear or anxiety in someone else as hostility. Or may not understand that someone being friendly isn’t necessarily flirting with them. These types of misunderstandings can result in uncomfortable exchanges and experiences with others.
- Problems with forming healthy bonds and attachments can become a concern, often linked to not understanding appropriate social cues. Teens can bond with others quickly, misinterpreting situations and breaking those connections fast with their behavior.