Caring for a Child Affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

Your Experience

As a grandparent or other kin caregiver, you are working hard to meet the needs of the child or children in your care. If they were exposed to alcohol before they were born, you might wonder about how you can help them learn and grow.

This resource is designed to provide information about how drinking alcohol during pregnancy can affect children. It also provides kin caregivers with tips for raising children who were exposed to alcohol before birth.

  • The term “kin caregiver” refers to all individuals who are raising their grandchildren, other relative children, or other children with whom they had a preexisting relationship before taking on primary caregiving responsibility. The families they form with the children in their care are known as kinship families, grandfamilies, and kinship/ grandfamilies, and all three terms can be used interchangeably.

What Is FASD?

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) describes a range of conditions that can develop in a person who was exposed to alcohol before birth. These effects may include physical and learning disabilities as well as behavioral challenges.

Alcohol in the mother’s blood passes to the baby through the umbilical cord. There is no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy. And there is no safe time to drink during pregnancy.

What Can You Do to Support Yourself?

If you are raising a child with FASD, you are not alone. Medical and educational professionals can help. So can other kinship/grandfamilies who share your experience and can suggest strategies that have worked for them. What matters most to the child you love is you. Your love, patience, and consistency are the foundation for their learning, growth, and other relationships.

  • Take a break when you can. Caring for a young child with FASD is challenging at times, and it is stressful for caregivers. Ask a trusted friend or family member to watch the child for short periods to give yourself a break.
  • Build a support network. Reach out to other grandparents or kin caregivers who are caring for children. Contact community organizations such as FASD Support Networks. Look for agencies serving grandparents and/or other kin caregivers and ask if they offer programming or services.
  • Reach out for information. Organizations that protect the rights of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities can provide advocacy, referrals, and resources. One example is The Arc.


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