People with FASD are over-represented and vulnerable in both youth and adult justice settings. According to the John Howard Society of Ontario (2010), youth with FASD are 19 times more likely to be jailed than youth without FASD and 60% of people with FASD over 12 years old have been charged with, or convicted of, a crime.
Depending on where they are on the spectrum, some people with FASD may lack impulse control, have poor judgment, and poor memory. They may need help to stay safe and avoid getting into trouble. Their difficulties may cause them to engage in risky activities, be easily convinced to do things that are illegal, take the blame for others, and/or be the victim of criminal acts. Your child may need you to act as their support person to help them make good decisions and understand consequences of their actions.
If your child is involved with the police and the law for criminal behaviour, try to stay calm and seek support and guidance. If there is a local FASD support group in your area, ask for support and information from them. In most cases, the child will not understand what happened or why they are in trouble. Remaining calm and supportive will be extremely helpful to your child.
It may be helpful to create a booklet about FASD specific to your child’s unique needs to use with police, lawyers, judges, and correctional staff. This is critical to ensure appropriate treatment at all levels. You may also be able to request alternative measures to be used instead of legal charges, such as: supervised restitution, letters of apology to those harmed and stolen items being returned.