The FASD Trust
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Following Rules

Hi everyone - Does anybody have any advice/strategies which have successfully help their child to become better at following rules. My daughter is unable to follow the rules of games and she will disrupt a game always wanting things to be on her terms. Following rules in wider society is also a challenge for her. This is having an impact on friendships and I am very concerned that as she gets older the consequences of not following rules will become more severe. Any help would be welcome. Thank you. x

8 Replies

Hello Nicky

Firstly you are not alone. Many people parenting children with FASD struggle to get them to follow instructions and rules. The reason for this common experience is because FASD effects the part of the brain that deals with cause and effect. This means that your daughter, along with all those other children, physically can't understand rules. It's not a lack of emotional intelligence it is a physical disability in the brain, that you cannot see.

So you can explain and explain, (many people say they do so until you're blue in the face and frustrated) but they just don't get it. Often people then get frustrated with them for not getting it. This is because the physicality of the disorder is misunderstood, if their brain physically can't do something, getting frustrated with them for not doing it is a bit like getting frustrated at a wheelchair user for not walking.

As well as finding a way to support your daughter you need to lead the way informing the other people who support her too - e.g. her teachers at school. The UK is a long way behind other countries in the world who have guidance and advice for teachers, in the UK we have nothing.

So, big task ahead!

But you probably knew that already.

What to do?

Okay so after that rather dreary start here's the useful bit. Your daughter will be more able to follow visual instructions, and understand concrete things. So you need to create a visual way to explain these rules and if you can incorporate something concrete into this system so much the better, this could just be something simple like an object velcroed onto a sequence strip of pictures that shows your daughter where she is in the process.

I'm Jo Grace, I run the Sensory Projects, do get in touch if I can be more use.

Kind regards



Good morning Jo

Thank you for your reply which is very helpful. I have looked at your website and I am interested in learning more about what you do as I feel it would benefit my daughter. Would it be alright to email you so that I can give you more information confidentially? Nicky


Hi Nicky, yes of course I'm very available online, my website has links to my facebook, twitter, and linkedin (there's things on each that you might find interesting) and my email address is if I can be any use then I'm very happy.


Oops, should have put the web address too!


The FASD Trust has a whole project around Education and FASD and has trained many hundreds of teachers - just got thousands more to go!!

Take a look at and email Karen, the Project Co-ordinator direct at if you want to know more,

kind regards

1 like

Ah yes... classic ;)

I remember that being one of the first signs that we had something more than attachment disorder going on..

I tried many strategies like sticking to simple games like snakes and ladders and giving continual praise for playing well, ending the game when co-operation was lost, etc..

In the end it was a parenting strategy which helped most with all the areas of difficulty.. including following rules. I came across it online:

I recommend Howard Glassers Nurtured Heart Approach. There's info on the website including a free online course. Plus there's stuff on YouTube . I have the book: Transforming the Difficult Child. We found it immensely helpful in that it just gave us a new way to approach everything with a can do attitude.

It's not specific to any disability or special need. It's just a way to approach the everyday issues of raising a child who is intense and difficult. It works by creating experiences of success for kids in the home and in their relationships.

It's a really practical approach which I found I could adapt to suit each of my children.

Hope that's useful! And good luck :)



Get Julia Brown & Dr Mather's book if you don't have it already -

Explain what to do rather the negative what not to do, eg "you throw the dice now" rather than "don't move the pieces". Think about having visual cards about "your turn" "my turn".

Speech and Language therapy can help too - they often have symbols you can use.

Best wishes


I have tried everything with my 13yo and still doesn't follow rules very well so I'm in the same boat.


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