Saturday, April 16, 2016

Notes On FASD

Joseph and of course his parents, have had a rough week. His eczema flared up, his frustration with life and his tantrums have increased. This happens periodically and the answer is to reevaluate our parenting in relation to his abilities and how he perceives himself against what is typical for a child his age. He hears new words and concepts, stores them in his brain but doesn't increase the logic factor necessary for a child to grow in knowledge. Sometimes it seems that when he learns something new, he has to remove a well known fact so he has brain space for the new concept.
  I was feeling at a loss as to how to help him. That feeling triggers my PTSD as I remember not knowing how to help B and all the pain that went with that time in our lives. I haven't read many books or articles on trauma, FASD, attachment and the like recently, so I dug out the tablet where I jot down notes and tips that I want to remember as I study since I wasn't in the mood to dig through pages of material to find things relate to our struggles. 
   Here is snips and pieces that I found interesting:
- Getting a diagnosis for a child we suspect has been prenatally exposed to alcohol is not optional. I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding that concept but I firmly believe that if a child knows why he has difficulties in life he will be in a better place emotionally. Think of it this way, you are different than your peers.....if you don't know why you will probably feel very frustrated and seek ways to get others attention, unfortunately when a child goes down that road he generally doesn't choose good or healthy ways of getting the attention he needs. If however, you know why you "are the way you are" you can hopefully seek out ways to improve your skills and get help, at the very least, your problems aren't because you are "weird" but because your brain isn't functioning correctly.

- Children with FASD hear others ideas and/or see things on TV that they don't understand. They reach their own conclusions, which can be very problematic especially when they are exposed to things way before they are ready or able to comprehend what they have seen or heard. Our responsibility towards these children, particularly once they reach the age of 12 is to be sure they do not find themselves in unsafe situations. For typical teens, it is natural to allow them to venture out and experience new situations, then draw them back in and discuss what they have experienced, you do not do this with the child with FASD because at 12 (or whatever the age may be) the child is not ready for these things when his peers are. (Yes, there is nothing like giving advice on teens before you have one but I feel safe sharing this because we find this to be true at age 8 and I can imagine it will continue to hold true).

- Ironically, children with FASD have expressive language skills beyond their years. On the surface it sounds like they have it all together and we make the mistake of assuming that the child who makes logical sounding statements must have it all together/this remains among the greatest challenges when relating to a child with FASD. Parents need to be incredibly suspicious of what comes out of their child's mouth... Checking and rechecking for comprehension. "Just because the child says it doesn't mean he understands it."

- One of the skills we need to make it in the world is the capacity to put ourselves in the shoes of another person and respond in a sensitive way. This kind of abstract thinking can be more than the person afflicted with FASD can accomplish.

- A child's thinking is "all about me" those with FASD stay in this place until well in their 40's.

- Addictions rarely come without mental health challenges. When the typical teen tries alcohol and becomes drunk, he may vow never to touch the stuff again because he dislikes the after affects. When someone with FASD tries is, he may well feel "better" than he does from day to day, thus he is more inclined to become addicted.

-People relating to the child with FASD need to know these are symptoms of brain injury not actions intended to drive us nuts.

-these children do not need a behavior plan they need an environment plan. When your child has a bad day ask, "Did their environment offer what they needed to make good choices, were they more tired than usual?"

assessment of strengths and limitations
Environment plan
Increased and ongoing supervision and structure
Living in a family that understands the disibilities he has
Advocates for home and school
Involvement with a care management team
Rehabilitation (speech, language, OT)
Ongoing neuro/psych Evals
Functional skill building
Behavior management with focus on prevention of behavior
Prevention of secondary disabilities (mental health, trouble with law & school, need for confinement etc.)

A Little R & R

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