What Is Fetal Alcohol and What Does It Have To Do With Me?
Etal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, (FASD) is not a mental health diagnosis or a medical diagnosis but is an umbrella term used to refer to a selection of syndromes and disorders that may occur in a young child whose mother consumed alcohol while pregnant. The symptoms and effects vary in severity. Many kids share the common effects including psychological, learning and physical difficulties. The typical physical characteristics that can be related to FASD are facial deformities, growth deficits, heart, liver, kidney defects, vision and hearing difficulties in addition to permanent brain injury. FASD is the only 100% preventable cause of mental retardation and birth defects in the United States and FASD is 100% untreatable. It’s projected that FASD affects 40,000 infants every year. This is more than Spinal Bifida, Down Syndrome and Muscular Dystrophy combined.
Alcohol damages the parts of the brain that gives us memory, self control, judgment and planner. Children with FASD frequently have problems with learning, memory, attention, central nervous system, and problem solving abilities which may have lifelong consequences. FASD is a permanent condition and affects every aspect of the child’s life and the life of their loved ones.
The emotional toll on families can’t be underestimated. For birth parents, acknowledging that their child’s mental retardation, birth defects, and/or neurodevelopment disorders are a result of maternal prenatal alcohol intake is quite difficult to confront. For adoptive or foster parents, discovering that their child suffers from FASD after years of trying to comprehend his cognitive and behavioral issues results in feelings of isolation and frustration.
As an adoptive mother I can tell you raising a child with FASD is the hardest but the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Andrew is currently 13 years old and is in the seventh grade. He’s sweet, generous, loving and very naive. He also has shown a lot of the symptoms associated with FASD since the day we brought him home at 1 week old. He cried all the time! Until he was 3 years old on medication he never slept for over half an hour at a time, night or day. To say life seemed impossible is actually an understatement. He needed constant attention and if I let him from my sight in another room for one minute he would destroy it. When I was not right beside him if he had a bowel movement in his diaper he would take off it and then smear feces all over the walls, carpets and bed. We needed to put a lock on the refrigerator because he would climb out of his crib in the middle of night and dump everything out of the refrigerator smearing it from the carpeting, walls, and beds. For many years we knew that there were severe problems, but no one can help us. All the professionals said that his behaviours were outside of their experience. We moved from Doctor to Doctor, counsel to counsel and searched everywhere for answers for our family. By the age of three, he was thrown out of every daycare in our region, went through a minimum of 30 babysitters, and could not remain in the nursery at Church. He was very violent toward everybody; however the majority of his rages were shot out on me. He’d bite me, hit me and throw things at me. He would put holes in the wall, windows, threw rocks at us, in addition to the cars and was basically never pleased. When he started college a completely new nightmare started. The fourth day of school he’d thrown toys, supplies and ruined the classroom than conducted from the room causing the teacher to have to leave other students to chase my 4 year old. He was moved to a mentally disabled class where they had experience with other kids like him.
From the time he was 5 he had many investigations I lost count, but none of them actually clarified the seriousness of his behaviours. We’d tried 21 distinct medications and attempted at least 4 different sorts of treatment. We started exploring the net and found a couple of websites about FASD and discovered that there have been several places in the USA that technical in FASD. Andrew and I packed up, leaving my husband along with other two kids in the home and went in search of a diagnosis. We went to Baltimore, MD and watched a FASD pro that finally gave him a precise diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. While we finally had a diagnosis nobody seemed able to help us get his behavior under control and his behavior was becoming worse. At that moment, he had been on 7 drugs however none were powerful. We went back online searching and learning about FASD and discovered that a “severe” conduct practice, The Marcus Institute, at Atlanta GA.. They observed his behaviours and they asked if we’d be open to coming to Atlanta to endure a few months so he could attend the practice. It was their observation that his behaviors were something which would not ever get better without extreme intervention. At this time we had no choice; he was becoming bigger, stronger and more destructive regular. After fighting insurance complications, Andrew and I moved to Atlanta where he failed treatment, training and testing for eight weeks.
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