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fetal alcohol syndrome
writing sentences
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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Diagnosis Made
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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Diagnosis Made

In 1998 I was blessed to be able to get temporary custody of my nephew as his mom, my sister was dealing with her own struggles in life. I already new he had some behavior issues however, it would not become evident as to the degree of those issues till later on. At the time he came to live with me he was five years old and would be starting school in the fall.

I started to notice he would have these angry outbursts in which he would destroy stuff and or cause physical harm to my daughter who at the time was only 7 years old by hitting her and throwing things, etc. . As a parent I did not believe in spanking but rather time-outs, writing sentences, and taking things away therefore; that's what his punishments consisted of. However, it did not matter what the punishment was as it did not seem to make his behaviors decrease but rather they stayed the same.

Then school started and that was a deal breaker as I would soon find out that some of the behavior I was seeing at home was also being exhibited at school along with academic challenges that I was made aware of. However, I had already seen signs of his academic struggling emerging. I was becoming more and more concerned about him and what he was going through. It became increasingly alarming when I later caught him abusing my dog which really caught me by surprise.

Then it just happened that one day, I was discussing the behavioral issues I was having in regard to Austin with a friend and out of the blue, my friend suggests that she thinks he might have "Fetal Alcohol Syndrome." At this point I'm dumbfounded as I have no clue as to what that is exactly but I'm about to find out soon enough.

After some research I find out that Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a condition that occurs when fetus is exposed to alcohol during pregnancy. Problems that can occur because of this include physical deformities, mental retardation, learning disorders, vision difficulties, and behavioral problems.

Well, once I discover what it is, the first thing I do is call my sister and ask her, "did you drink while you were pregnant with him?" She explained that she did if fact drank some alcohol while pregnant but only a few. I thought about it for awhile and was not totally convinced that a few drinks would cause this problem.

Later on I was told about a place in Toledo, Ohio called Double Arc, that was sponsored by the Sisters of Notre Dame which serves children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and their families through education, intervention and advocacy. My next move was to contact this organization to set up an appointment in which he could be tested. To my surprise I got an appointment rather quickly and set out on a journey to find out if that was truly what he had.

I was told the diagnostic process would be a few hours in length and would include pediatricians, neuropsychologist, speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, education and behavioral specialists and a team manager. The diagnostic part would include the following:

  1. Intake
  2. Collection and analysis of medical, psychological, school and social service records
  3. 4-hour assessment process by their multi-disciplinary team
  4. Preliminary report with diagnosis and recommendations
  5. Medical Summary report
  6. One school consultation

The information that I would obtain from the assessment would guide the development of appropriate supports and intervention for him at home, school, along with other places. Furthermore, it would include assistance for various things like advocacy for him in different settings if needed.

After the assessment a meeting between myself and the team took place and I was then informed he was the first person they had diagnosed that displayed most of the symptoms and signs of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.. I was shocked but at the same time relieved to finally know why he displayed certain behaviors and was having academic problems.

The Double Arc advocated for him on the education front and even had a meeting with the school. To my surprise the school did in fact take the informational material and shared it with his teachers. As for the school accommodating some of his special needs well, that was not promising because of the money aspect and that the school district like others are not educated on this particular disease.

The outcome for children with this diagnosis really depends on when they are diagnosed. If it is diagnosed early in childhood the outcome is more positive but sadly if diagnosed later per say as in the teenage years sometimes the outcome is not as good. As a reminder it only takes one alcoholic beverage during pregnancy to cause "Fetal Alcohol Syndrome."


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