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|Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders|
WHAT IS FASD?
“Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder” (FASD) is an umbrella term that describes the full range of effects that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects may include changes in facial features, physical stature, and patterns of growth. More importantly, prenatal alcohol exposure can create a widely varying pattern of brain damage ranging from microcephaly and mental retardation to more subtle and invisible disabilities that present as an array of confounding behavioral and learning disabilities. FASD disabilities have serious lifelong implications for education, societal expectations, and mental health. Once a diagnosis is established, recommendations for interventions can be made.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO MAKE THIS DIAGNOSIS?
Many children exposed to alcohol prenatally have significant brain damage that goes undiagnosed. Alcohol induced changes in brain architecture affect memory, language processing, reasoning, and sensory and emotional regulation, unleashing profoundly challenging behavior and learning problems. This insidious disease runs rampant in the foster care population and among children who have been victims of other forms of abuse or neglect. The impact of alcohol on the developing brain can be both subtle and devastating, causing serious problems with cognition, language, social skills, and executive function. Many children exposed to alcohol prenatally have significant brain damage that goes undiagnosed. Alcohol induced changes in brain architecture affect memory, language processing, reasoning, and sensory and emotional regulation, unleashing profoundly challenging behavior and learning problems. Many children in foster care who are failing in the educational and social domains are children with undiagnosed FASD. If the underlying problem is not properly diagnosed, then the interventions used are often ineffective.
Since its opening, the FASD clinic at VIP-CATC has screened thousands of children. Close to ten percent of children screened test positive for FASD. This means they may have some form of mental retardation, educational and learning problems, tendencies toward violence, and so many more problems associated with the damage done to their brains in utero.
VIP has a very successful program for helping children and their caregivers deal with the unique issues of FASD and trying to build a healthy, stable life
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