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Inside The Mind Of A Child With Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
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Inside the Mind of a Child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

This article is in remembrance of Austin who passed away on December 8, 2011 after a car hit him while walking. Although he is no longer with us, he lives on through the memories we have and will never be forgotten. This is a story of his struggles with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and how he matured to become an incredible young man.

The Spring of 1999 my sister decided to give me temporary custody of my nephew, so she could deal with some personal issues. Prior, to him coming to stay with me, I was aware that he had behavioral issues but was unaware as to the extent of them. It was the summer of 2000 when a friend advised me to have him tested for "Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)," which I did, and it led to a diagnosis "Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Now the journey inside the mind of a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome starting with his cognitive functioning. Let's start with the fact, he did not understand that his behavior had an effect on others which became highly evident when he would become aggressive with others within the household. Furthermore, he would continually display the unwanted behaviors daily with great difficulty in learning from consequences. The consequences that I utilized consisted of time-outs, writing sentences, and taken things away that the kids enjoyed and this was video games for him.

It was truly a struggle when it came to him accepting responsibility for his own actions. It became enormously evident when he would display various destructive behavior. However, he was unable to take responsibility and would regularly put blame on others or just plain out say he did not do it.

It was extremely soon after he began school, that he was diagnosed with learning disabilities and was therefore, placed on an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) and included the following:

  • Memory deficits
  • Difficulty with abstract concepts (math, time, money)
  • Poor problem solving skills

Eventually, he received a diagnosis of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) which explained his extreme hyperactivity, inability to concentrate and poor impulse control,. Therefore, he started taken medication that would assist with his daily struggles.

Social skills proved to be extremely hard as he was unable to understand personal boundaries and ownership. A normal day sometimes would consist of him entering others bedrooms and taking personal items from us. Furthermore, it was enormously hard for him to make friends, however, he eventually did form friendships with four young boys that did last throughout the school years.

Change was very hard for him and therefore, an everyday struggle especially with physical and emotional change. Keeping a structured routine was inevitable but easier said than done at times. The more structure the harder it would be to enforce them at times which was very frustrating and aggravating.

Truthfully, he tried his hardest to maintain but found it excessively hard to do 100% of the time. However, by the time he turned 16 he had started improving in school studies and improving grades. Furthermore, most of the destructive behavior had ceased and he started maturing into this awesome young man.

If asked, "If I would do it all again," my reply would be absolutely as I learned so much from him as he did me. He was not just my nephew, but he was my son that I was fortunate to have the opportunity to help raise with my sister. There is nothing more powerful in this lifetime than being a part of a child's life and loving them unconditionally.


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