The ABC's of Back to School with FASD
From a mother's heart
By Kari Fletcher
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 (www.nofas.org) - visit their website as well as those of their state affiliates! (www.mofas.org 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.
Please contact Carrie
Kitze for information on obtaining reprints of this article
for pre and post adoption kits and seminars.