Book Review: FASD and the Online World

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Submitted by Audrey McFarlane, CanFASD Executive Director

Every parent struggles with managing the internet and social media for their child(ren) but there are additional worries when it comes to raising a child with FASD in this digital world.  There are not many resources available to assist with managing the online world with individuals with FASD but this new book by Dr. Ira Chasnoff is a useful one.

Ira J. Chasnoff, M.D., an award-winning author, researcher and lecturer, is president of NTI Upstream and a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago. He is one of the nation’s leading researchers in the field of child development and the effects of maternal alcohol and drug use on the newborn infant and child.

Dr. Chasnoff received his medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He has authored eleven books; his most recent book, The Mystery of Risk, explores the biological and environmental factors that impact the ultimate development of alcohol- and drug-exposed children and presents practical strategies for helping children reach their full potential at home and in the classroom.

FASD and the Online World
by Ira J. Chasnoff, M.D.

In this book, FASD and the Online World, Dr. Chasnoff describes the risks for individuals with FASD, how their brain processes information related to internet use, and gives practical strategies of what families can do.  He covers the need for managing behavioral expectations online, setting up the ground rules, reinforcing these rules, and how to handle things when the rules are not followed.

Setting up external controls when the child first begins interacting online, allocating specific times and places that children can use electronic devices, having all members of the family following the rules, monitoring the devices on a consistent and irregular basis, follow the child on their social media platforms and many more great suggestions are detailed in this book. 

I like the discussion on teaching the child about moral and ethical boundaries of online communication.  These abstract concepts can be difficult to break down, but Dr. Chasnoff suggests outlining rules, such as always be kind online, describing what behavior is unacceptable from others and yourself, and encouraging asking questions when your children are unsure.  Repeating these conversations many times and having simple rules posted by the computer will help avoid some of the pitfalls for individuals with FASD that are online. 

The book is small and an easy read for busy families. It is available for purchase online for $17.00. You can also listen to Dr. Chasnoff discuss this book and associated solutions on the FASD Success Show with host Jeff Noble.

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