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Saturday, February 14, 2015

FASD and Neurotransmitters

I am attempting to educate myself about FASD. I have heard a lot about neurotransmitters so I got busy researching. Here is some of the basic information I found. I know this is an old topic for many of you experienced moms out there but I am still learning about it and I know there are other mom's who are in the same shoes. So here goes!

Neurotransmitters are endogenous (substances that originate from within an organism, tissue or cell) chemicals that transmit signals from a neuron to a target cell across a synapse (a structure that permits a neuron (or nerve cell) to pass an electrical or chemical signal to another cell).

*I am getting in over my head so I will wait to share the remainder of the information I gathered from the article containing the above description. When I can wrap my brain around all the information the article gives I will share it with you all.

Prenatal alcohol exposure interrupts brain development and impacts many brain systems, including the regulation and production of various neurotransmitters, including:
 Dopamine (happy, excitement)             may be too low 
 Serotonin (happy, calm, contentment)  may be too low
 Oxytocin (warm, tussling, loving)        may be too low 
Testosterone (aggression, libido)           may be too high 
Cortisol (stress, fight or flight)               may be too high 

FASD means the brain may not produce enough dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin, and may produce too much testosterone and cortisol. These levels fluctuate over the course of the day. 

The child who demands constant attention, who pushes other people’s buttons to get a reaction, who manipulates others, or who incites drama, may have too little dopamine. 
The child who seems sullen and depressed may have too little serotonin.
 The child who is hateful and mistrustful may have too little oxytocin.
 The child who is angry all the time, who intentionally breaks the rules, or who engages in self abuse, may have several neurotransmitters out of balance. 

There are ways we can help the brain produce a healthy balance of the neurochemicals so the brain can function better, giving the child more control over behavior. We can help the overall performance and function of the brain by making sure the child gets adequate rest at night and lots of fluids throughout the day, and by eliminating artificial additives from the diet (no Red 40 and other colors with numbers, no MSG, no Nutrisweet/aspartame). 
DOPAMINE can be increased with Adderall Lots of personal attention (5 minutes per hour) Vigorous daily exercise Reward systems that change every month Humor and silly play Competition, games that can be won, prizes Music and rhythm Thrilling activities (roller coasters, races) Video games Vacation, party, day trips (zoo, park) Anticipation 
SEROTONIN can be increased with SSRIs (Paxil, Celexa, Prozac, etc.) Chocolate (dark or light, but no colors) Green tea, fish oil Turkey, chicken, nuts, cheese, eggs, bananas Mild exercise, a walk outside
OXYTOCIN can be increased with Cuddly pets with soft coats Hugs, massage, cuddling Playing with happy babies Pleasant sensory experiences Generosity, gift giving
TESTOSTERONE levels and libido decrease with some medications, like SSRIs.
CORTISOL can be decreased with relaxation exercises, calm music, a walk, positive self talk. 

Here is the link to the website where I got most of this information. I advise you to go to the website and read the whole article, I found it very helpful.

We don't have an official FASD diagnosis for Joseph. Braden was diagnosed by a Dr. in VA. but I would like to take Joseph somewhere closer to our house. Joseph lacks cause and effect thinking and if I am not careful I can get super frustrated with him. We need to get him diagnosed so we can help him better. I educated myself on RAD but FASD is proving to be much more complex and involves a lot more knowledge of psychology than I shall ever have. 
  Joseph cannot understand that his actions have a direct impact on how others relate to him. He thinks the worlds rules pertain to everyone but himself. If someone says or does something he doesn't like he feels he has the right to retaliate however he see's fit but that rule doesn't apply when he is the one causing trouble.
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