FASD Learning Series, Session 6: Managing Challenging Behavior

On June 16th, 2021, SFNFCI hosted the sixth session of our seven-part FASD virtual learning series. The series is part of the action items of this year’s disability research project funded by Indigenous Services Canada (ISC). Dr. Cassandra Phillips, from Behavior Specialists Saskatoon, was the presenter for the session. Elder Ernestine Starr opened the session with a prayer and was available for support throughout the session.

Dr Phillips started her presentation by defining what behaviour is and what is considered a challenging behaviour: “Everything that we do is behaviour, and all behaviour has a function”. It is important to understand the function that the behaviour serves so that we can adapt or change the environment to manage the behaviour. She explained that there are four major functions of behaviour:

  1. Sensory: Examples include rocking, spinning, hand flapping, grunting, or vocalization

  2. Escape: Examples include escaping classes at school, doing chores

  3. Attention: Includes behaviours either positive or negative to get a social response from another individual

  4. Tangible: Examples include a desire to access or hold on to tangible items such as toys, games, or food

Dr. Phillips recommended using ABC strategy to find out the function of the behaviour: Antecedent: what happened prior to the behaviour or what could have led to the behaviour, Behaviour, and Consequence is the action resulting from the behaviour. Dr. Phillips used a variety of real-life scenarios and examples for participants to practice SEAT and ABC strategies.









Finally, our speaker also shared some interventions for managing challenging behaviours:

  1. Avoid using the one-size-fits-all approach rather adopt a trauma-informed response which includes being aware of the child’s background and building relationship with the child,

  2. Adopting self-care practices and finding our support system

  3. Reinforcing positive behaviours and findings strengths in the child to build on them

  4. Value and acknowledge the child’s cultural background and belonging

  5. When speaking to the child, coming down to their eye level so that they can focus and also shows the child that you care

  6. Giving verbal praise

  7. The first-Then strategy, meaning asking the kids to do tasks first then reward them

  8. Give simple tasks or break down tasks especially when working with children with FASD because they often have difficulty with executing functioning and can get frustrated if the task is too complex








Participants feedback:

“Loved the real stories and example that you [presenter] gave”

“[It was] really easy to relate to example along with great discussion on options and again, real example of similar situations”

“The fact that we didn’t/don’t take time to play with our children-truth for many parents. Is it intergenerational for some of us-not understanding the importance, I don’t know”

To learn more about the disabilities research project click here.

To learn about the FASD learning series click here.

If you need more info or assistance, please contact our researcher Anuja Thapa @ (306) 250-0740 or via email at anuja@sfnfci.ca or program coordinator Lacey Kaysaywaysemat @ (306) 526- 2566 or via email at lacey@sfnfci.ca


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