Sunday, September 2, 2012

FASD Awareness Day: T-minus 7 days

Welcome to my second post about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day.

FASD FACT  #2:  
Prenatal alcohol exposure causes brain damage that affects behaviors, e.g., poor judgement, difficulty learning from experience and difficulty understanding consequences. 

FASD is most often an invisible physical disability. 

Here is a very insightful quote from the National Center for Biotechnology Information

"Prenatal alcohol exposure is known to disrupt many areas of brain development, including the cerebellum, hippocampus, basal ganglia, and the corpus callosum (Sowell et al, 2001; Mattson, Schoenfeld, and Riley, 1999). Other pathologic changes to the central nervous system include enlarged ventricles, abnormal neural/glial migration, and changes in the microvasculature in regions of the brain such as the cerebellum and hippocampus (Miller, 1992).

.... More likely, there will be identifiable patterns related to differential alcohol exposure (timing, amount, and frequency), combined with other genetic and environmental factors. These patterns may be reflective of general patterns of atypical prenatal brain development due to a combination of factors, and may not be specific to alcohol as a teratogen. However, some of the more commonly identified problem areas in FASD include attention, learning and memory, abstract problem solving and strategy generation. While individuals with FASD will often be within normal limits on measures of IQ, they often have other significant neurocognitive deficits. Many areas of cognitive functioning are only peripherally assessed through an IQ measure, such as attention and concentration. In addition, IQ testing does not assess other domains, such as higher order executive functions. These deficits will have a profound effect on the ability of a person with FASD to function, and without appropriate supports and interventions this can lead to secondary impairments."

So what does that mean in terms of parenting???

We have learned the importance of giving appropriate environmental accommodations -  no one would discipline a blind child for not reading the blackboard or expect a child in a wheelchair to run a marathon. FASD is an invisible physical disability.

It means no down-time as a parent.
It means constant supervision.
It means a whole new way of parenting - - far different from the way my parents raised me or my husbands parents raised him.  
The child needs a stable home: A healthy, processed food free diet. Structure. Routine. Boundaries.

It is 110% work to raise a child affected by Fetal Alcohol.  It is life long for the child.  It is life long for the parent raising the child.

Which is why I cannot say it too many times:  If a woman is of childbearing years she should avoid alcohol during the time she is ovulating and fertile for pregnancy.

It's that simple. Really.

Please pass this info on to others. 
From one parent to another: let's educate our communities and prevent another child from ever suffering this life-long disability.

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