This site introduces the neurobehavioural difficulties that may appear throughout the lifespan of individuals with FASD. It is important to recognize that, being a spectrum disorder, FASD can look different for different individuals. Not all individuals with FASD will experience all of the issues presented here. However, this site summarizes the common neurobehavioural features of FASD found in current research. The problems presented on this site are not necessarily gender-specific.
Difficulty Understanding Time
Time is an abstract concept that takes time for all children to understand. Often preschool children struggle with the concept of time, and typically developing children may gain this understanding during their elementary school years. For individuals with FASD, this development may be delayed, and in fact daily activities associated with effective time awareness and time management may be lifelong challenges for individuals with FASD. For instance, transitions may be very difficult for an individual who does not have a clear concept of when an activity will be starting or ending. Frequent reminders about time related activities may be important for supporting success. Within adolescent and adult ages, individuals with FASD may need extra assistance planning, remembering, and getting ready for appointments and time dependent activities. Timers, stopwatches, and alarms are helpful tools for keeping someone with FASD on time. Working with individuals with FASD to develop the best system for planning and organizing their days, and embedding reminders may support development of strategies that are the best fit for any given individual.
For people with FASD, difficulties understanding time may reflect impairments in abstract thinking (see executive function) or visual spatial awareness (in the case of non-digital clocks). Even though an individual may be able to read the numbers on a clock, this does not mean that they understand what that means. Similarly they may struggle to estimate how much time is passed, and may be surprised by how much (or little) time has commenced since they began an activity. Recognizing that missed appointments, lateness, or other time related difficulties may not reflect lack of interest, motivation or respect, can help to offset feelings of frustration and creates opportunities to develop meaningful systems of support that respond to the underlying area of need for the individual.