Monday, August 10, 2015

ABC'S Of Back To School With FASD

The ABC's of Back to School with FASD


  Posted by Kari Fletcher on 06 Aug 2015

I wrote this for my son’s teacher.
A. Alcohol. My child was exposed to alcohol before birth.
B. Brain. Alcohol use during pregnancy can permanently damage the child's brain.
C. Corpus Callosum. The part of the brain that passes information between the left side (rules) and the right side (impulses) may be damaged or absent with FASD.
D. DSI- Dysfunction of Sensory Integration. My child is sometimes sensitive to florescent lights, tags on clothing, visual over-stimulation, noises, smells, etc...
E. Emotional. My child can be very emotional and often has a low frustration tolerance.
F. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), the "umbrella term" for the damage done when alcohol is used during pregnancy.
G. Give my child praise when he does something well or when he tries hard.
H. Hyperactivity. My child might have a hard time sitting for long periods of time.
I. Immaturity. Because of his FASD, my child may often act half his age.
J. Judgment. My child may exhibit poor judgment. This is from the damage to the frontal lobe of his brain and because of this he needs supervision and lots of reminders.
K. Kindness and redirection is far more effective than punishment.
L. Learn. My child CAN learn but he learns differently.
M. Mental retardation. FASD is the #1 cause of mental retardation in North America but most people with FASD have IQs within the normal range.
N. National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome - visit their website as well as those of their state affiliates! (MOFSA for Minnesota)
O. Other drugs. “Of all the substances of abuse, including heroin, cocaine, and marijuana, alcohol produces by far the most serious neurobehavioral effects in the fetus, resulting in life-long permanent disorders of memory function, impulse control and judgment.” (Institute of Medicine 1996 Report to Congress)
P. Parenting. My child’s behaviors may appear, to those who do not understand FASD, to be the result of poor parenting. Please be slow to blame and quick to consult me.
Q. Quiet time to regroup. My child has problems with self-regulation and may need a quiet time and space to calm down. Providing this will reduce unwanted behaviors.
R. Repetition. Memory issues are very frustrating for my child, repeat and re-teach often.
S. Sleep disorders. My child often has trouble sleeping, please understand if he is tired.
T. Time. Time is an abstract concept and my child does not "feel" it like you and I do.
U. Understanding. Understanding that my child has a disability rather than trying to change something he cannot control will make both his life and yours a lot easier!
V. Visual. Many people with FASD learn best with visual and hands-on type lessons.
W. Willful. Behaviors may appear willful...remind yourself often of the brain damage!
X. X-ample. My child needs examples of good behavior and appropriate role models.
Y. You will make a difference in my child's life. It is my prayer that it is a positive one.
Z. Zero alcohol during pregnancy. Please help me spread the word that FASD is 100% preventable!
© Kari Fletcher, MOFAS 2006 Kari Fletcher works from her home in Mankato as the Southern Minnesota Regional Resource Coordinator for MOFAS. Kari and her husband, Mike, have six children, four “homemade” and two adopted from the foster care system. Their adopted children, Ben, age 9, and Anna, age 5, both have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and Kari is passionate about educating others about this disability. Before joining MOFAS, Kari worked for several years under a project managed by the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) that recruited families for children in the foster care system. Foster care and adoption have always been a part of Kari’s life as her parents also adopted children from the foster care system. Kari’s four adopted siblings, now all adults, were pre-natally exposed to alcohol but never formally diagnosed with FASD.
If you’ve told a child a thousand times and he still does not understand, it is not the child who is a slow learner.
Someone shared this on an FASD FB group I am a member of and I thought it was exceptionally well written. I want to print this out and share it with Joseph's teacher. I think I will post a copy on my refrigerator as well. It will be a good reminder for me. Especially on days like today....it is rainy so everyone has to stay inside, we didn't have a routine last week because we were at the cabin and then Dean and the boys went on a canoeing trip.
   I knew better than letting Joseph stay up late while and skip naps while we were at the cabin but I got derailed by "mommy guilt" and loosened the safety reigns, giving him more freedom. After all, we were on vacation,surely he deserved to join in the fun. That is one of the things I hate about FASD, the child has to miss out on so many fun and exciting things because they cannot handle the extra stimulation. 
  One of Joseph's teachers said, "He does best when we don't do any extra activities, but it feels so wrong to make him miss out." 
   We walk that fine line every day...let him run and play like other 7 year old's or give him tight boundaries with adequate down time so he doesn't become over stimulated and can enjoy life. 
    What makes it even more difficult is that Joseph can appear to be doing well when we deviate from his routine or he becomes over stimulated but what you don't see is the meltdowns and emotional fatigue he experiences in the following days. As one mom said, "Yes, my daughter is handling this extra activity well, but the coming days will give us a much better idea of how she was affected."
    The children are playing doctor and things aren't going so well, the doctors and patients cannot seem to agree on anything. Lia claims both she and her baby are married and Joseph thinks that is the funniest thing he ever heard. Kiana said they will have pretend people in the waiting room so Lia and Joseph can wait longer, because that is how it is at doctors offices. :) Sometimes watching my children play can be quite entertaining!

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