Sexual Behaviors

Although there is a great deal written about behavior issues seen in children and teens with FAS disorders, there is not much to be found specifically about sexual acting out and inappropriate sexual behaviors in these individuals.

Almost all parents report privately to each other that their children have acted out sexually inappropriately, often starting at early ages, and not being able to "learn" proper behavior while growing up.

The behavior is most likely due to the neurological damage to the frontal lobes that control the "executive functions." See the article FAS and the Brain.

This is an important issue that needs to be addressed. It is probably under-reported due to parental embarrassment or fear of being judged as "bad parents" or concern over potentially adverse consequences if this behavior is brought to light in the professional's office. It is reasonable to expect to see sexually inappropriate behavior in children and teens with FAS disorders.

With a better understanding of the nature of FAS, perhaps we can find more effective ways to cope with this issue and help these young people avoid serious trouble and perhaps assist them in relating to others in socially acceptable ways.

The following opinions stated by experienced parents are shared with permission from the Iowa Connects Newsletter, Volume 3, Issue 3 Summer 2001. Email: [email protected]

We need to remember that our FAS kids are trying very hard each and every day to do good.

My son acts out sexually most when he is overstressed, overtired or I'm gone.

He can quote the rules, knows them all, will tell you afterwards what he did wrong,but it still doesn't stop him.

Last time he did it from the van to the house, less than a couple minutes time. We are in "mom enforced lock down," and he does know why, but it doesn't make it any easier for any of us. --Cathy


The problem is that sex is a basic instinct for all mammals. Because of artificial cultural rules, we try to control the sex drive by teaching inhibition.

Most of our socialization is through Thou shalt not rules. Inhibition and socialization rules are abstract concepts, unfortunately, our FAS/E kids don't do abstract concepts.

Given that there are no rulesfound to modify our kids behavior, the result is an instinctive reaction, that has legal and social consequences. If it feels good, do it. If it looks pretty. take it.

Even in our normal controlled nature, sex is used to sell everything from socks, to booze to cars to fastening devices. It is not at all suprising to find our kids freely expressing sexual interest. --Bruce


We have had some sexual behaviors over the past yr. with our 13 y.o. fas/e son. The psychologist said it isn't unusual for people with neurological disorders to behave sexually innapropriatly.

That said, our aim is to keep our son out of trouble(jail). so here comes 24/7. He has a full time aid at school. If we should be able to get respite ( always working on that) post adoption is trying to get a home with NO OTHER children.

We do try and talk to him. Notice TRY.This is a real problem, as we must protect our child,siblings, other relatives and society.

We haven't found a way to do all this yet. Prevention is working,but not reasoning,so if we let down the guard of 24/7, we would have problems again.--Sue


I am worried about my oldest daughter, not in the sense that she will be acting out, but that she will be very easily persuaded herself.

She is now 12, very attractive and physically mature ,although socially and emotionally very immature and going into high school in the fall.

My poor son has been humped and groped (his words,not mine) by both his older and younger sisters.

Is the damage they do to the others through sexual inappropriate, violent,anti-social and sometimes bizarre behavior worth the benefits they get growing up in a family? I can't possibly supervise them all 24/7.

The only place that can come close, is a group home and I have worked in several, and even with staff around the clock, it still happens there. --Errin


I have had the same problems with our son since he became a part of our family 13 years ago.

He was sexually abused before he came to us... however,he has had 13 years of therapy with 18 (? I think- I have lost count!) therapists.

Because of the impulsiveness, lack of knowing consequences, and the hormonal stuff going on -NO THERAPY WILL WORK FOR SEXUAL ISSUES! (my opinion) And I might add, most therapists THINK they can work out these issues..I have yet to see it happen. So 24/7 is the only safeguard I know. --Mary


I'm with you on this one Robin, there's no such thing as 24/7 supervision.

Sometimes you have to sleep. I don't believe these kids are deviant sexual offenders but that is exactly how they are treated if it enters into the legal realm.

No one believes that they could do the things they do without being classified as sexually deviant perpetrators.

Therapy has little effect because they don't want to behave this way, they just can't control their impulses. --Alma


I won't give out names because the hurt that has occurred in my family. I am now divorced.

The children (all 7) last seen their father 4 years ago. My oldest daughter is 19 and I do not know where she is. I

heard she is living with her birth mother. She had my husband charged with sexual abuse and me with all other crimes.

Months into the trial she changed her mind but, the social workers called that a "recant" and said only the first story could be considered true.

I have only this year (2001) realized that there is a complication called FAS/E. I now have the comfort of knowing what the next three children do behaviorally is typical but, I am full of great fear as a single parent with it all. --"C"


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