Raising a young person with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is challenging! Parents and carers will tell you that and the research agrees! A part of what makes it so hard is that many parents find that the parenting strategies and techniques that worked well with their other children, just don't work with their child with FASD, sometimes those strategies seem to make things worse! This can leave parents and carers feeling exhausted, frustrated, isolated and unsure what to do next. 

"Explained by Brain" is an educational online program specifically designed to assist parents and carers of young people with FASD or with suspected FASD.
It is based on the book "Explained by Brain - The FASD Workbook for Parents, Carers and Educators".

This psycho-educational program is facilitated by Australian Clinical Psychologist, Dr Vanessa Spiller. Vanessa has extensive experience in working with individuals with FASD, their families and carers as well as in training, education and research on FASD. She is also the parent to a young adult with FASD.

What does the online program cover?

1: The "Explained by Brain" Introduction video.

The orientation session is a 3 hour foundation video which provides the framework for all later sessions!

It includes information about the brain-based origins of the behavioural symptoms of FASD that are vital in explaining and understanding why people with FASD behave and interact in the ways they do. 

The orientation session also covers the kinds of approaches and strategies that have been found to be helpful in working with and managing the behavioural symptoms of FASD such as Diane Malbin's  -neurobehavioral approach, Dr Bruce Perry's - neurosequential approach and Dr Ross Greene's - Proactive and Collaborative Solutions plus more. You will be introduced to the Explained by Brain framework and how this can be used to better understand and assist your child with FASD!

This first session is accompanied by a 1 hr drop-in session for participants focused on the Explained by Brain approach with Dr Spiller. It is an opportunity for participants to meet each other, discuss the Explained by Brain approach and ask questions. 

This session can be done as a stand-alone session but ideally it will accompany other selected sessions.

2. 10 additional psycho-education sessions delivered to your inbox monthly

The 10 sessions currently available cover a variety of topics central to supporting a young person with FASD. Each session includes a 1 - 2 hr video session released approximately 1 x per month. Each video is accompanied by an optional one hour group drop-in session so you can discuss video content with Dr Spiller and other parents and carers. 

Step 3: Enrol and Register now! 

What is the cost of the Explained by Brain online program?

The orientation/starter video session costs $59.99 AU (+GST) and includes a 1 hr facilitated online group discussion.

If you already know you want to attend the whole program you can sign up for everything - the orientation video + all 10 psycho-education videos and access to all the optional facilitated group discussions for $450 (+GST). 

If you are a registered foster carer or have a child receiving NDIS funding, speak to your agency about funding your attendance. 
​Can I watch the video's more than once?
Of course - you can't take everything in the first time! Video's will be available to rewatch as many times as you like until the end of the course.

Can my partner watch the video sessions as well?
Other members of your immediate household are welcome to watch with you. We do ask that you don't share the video more widely than that. If your partner or another household member can also join you in the drop-in discussion group without an extra cost. The more people in a household on the same page the better!

My child/young person hasn't been diagnosed with FASD yet, can I still attend?
Of course! Most people with FASD in Australia haven't been diagnosed or have been misdiagnosed (this is also true around the world). If you suspect your child has FASD or is at risk of FASD you are still welcome to attend the group. In fact, all the strategies and approaches discussed can be used with children without FASD as well as those with it. If you need information about how to pursue a diagnosis we can help point you in the right direction.

My child has also experienced trauma and has a range of other diagnoses and challenges, will the program still be suitable for me?
Many of the approaches used in this group have been used with young people with a variety of issues including ADHD, ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) and trauma.

I don't live in Australia, can I still join?
Yes of course! Drop-in discussions will occur at the end of each month. The time of the discussions will vary between - Thursday nights at 7pm and Fridays 1 - 2 pm AEST. Additional discussion times in different time zones may be added if numbers permit. Exact discussion group dates will be advised prior to the start of the program.
What topics are covered in the training?
This training covers the key issues impacting on young people with FASD and their parents and carers! We do not shy away from the tough topics!! Psycho-education sessions include:
  • Information about specific brain areas effected by prenatal alcohol exposure and how that can present as behavioural symptoms in young people with FASD
  • Strategies and interventions that can assist with these difficulties 
  • Introduction to the Explained by Brain approach to managing behavioural symptoms of FASD
  • How FASD impacts on parents and carers and other and what is needed to support you
  • How to communicate with others about FASD 
  • How to get support for your young person with FASD
  • How to increase your young person's chances of success at home, at school, in the community and in life!!

Session 1
  • Adaptive Functioning - Real world functioning skills including Social Skills
  • Aggression - verbal and physical aggression
  • Meltdowns, defiance and oppositionality
  • Problem-solving behavioural symptoms

Session 2
  • Executive Functioning - Understanding cause and effect, impulsivity, organisation 
  • Brain Structure
  • Stealing 
  • Building stronger relationships with your child

Session 3
  • Cognition - including IQ and intellectual disability
  • Confabulation (Lying)
  • Picking your battles!
  • Advocating for your child

Session 4
  • Affect and emotional regulation
  • Suicide and Self-harm 
  • Working with multiple services
  • Therapy for those with FASD

Session 5
  • Attention (ADHD)
  • Sexualised behaviours
  • Communicating about FASD with others

Session 6
  • Motor Skills & Sensory issues
  • Perseveration i.e., getting stuck!
  • Behaviours versus disability??!!

Session 7
  • Memory
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Caring for Carers - self-care, seeking supports and finding your tribe!

Session 8
  • Language
  • Managing transitions
  • Grief and loss for carers

Session 9
  • Academic Performance
  • Working with schools
  • The role of medication

Session 10​
  • FASD & Trauma
  • Building on Strengths
  • Planning for the future 
  • Re-defining success for a child with FASD
Please note: The Explained By Brain sessions are not intended to to replace individualised professional advice nor is it intended to be an ongoing support group.
Please note: Session contents may vary slightly. Changes will be advised. 
Contact Us
Want a training package specifically designed to meet the needs of your group?
1/2 day, full-day and multi-day training is available for parent and carers groups and for other professionals (teachers, psychologists, social workers, foster care staff, corrections staff, child-care workers and more!) 
Contact Dr Spiller at [email protected] to discuss your needs.
Contact Dr Spiller with additional questions you might have about the program! 
Want a certificate to show you've 
completed the training?

An optional quiz can be completed at the end of the program to demonstrate your learning and gain your certificate!
Join Dr Spiller for......

  • 17 hrs of videos you can watch and rewatch in your own time
  • Presentation notes
  • 11 hours of drop-in discussions over 
       9 months
  • Contact with fellow parents and carers
  • Quiz and certificate of achievement!
An on-line educational program especially for parents, carers or teachers of young people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) 
or at risk of FASD
Next Course starts 
March 2022
Enrolments open February 2022