In this episode, we discuss the ins and outs of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Guest Natalie Vecchione has an adopted son with FASD. Although it was not diagnosed at the time, he began showing signs of FASD very early on. Symptoms worsened around age 2, with symptoms such as additional sensory needs, attachment difficulties, speech regressions, delayed milestones, and sleep impairments. He started early intervention at an early age, but as he grew older, he no longer qualified for services. He started falling behind his peers at school. Her son has variable memory impairments, which change on a daily basis. As he grew, he also began exhibiting behavior difficulties, exacerbated by puberty.
Finding a support group for parents of children with FASD was very helpful for Natalie. Natalie found that doctors never mentioned FASD unless Natalie did, making it difficult to eventually find a diagnosis for her son. Once she got a diagnosis, she began to look into trainings about FASD. She found that brain based or neurobehavioral approaches worked best and were most effective for her son. She found that mental health first aid training was incredibly helpful. Executive functioning of is one main cognitive areas that is impaired in those with FASD. This can affect their developmental age, which is often lower than their chronological age.
Natalie discusses that there are different diagnoses under the FASD umbrella, but it is a whole body disorder. With fetal alcohol syndrome, a child might have certain facial features, shorter stature, smaller head circumference, sensory and mobility issues, and other medical issues. FASD is often very underdiagnosed. Common FASD symptoms include dysmaturity as children get older, variable memory impairments, hyperactivity, executive dysfunction, having difficulty with abstract thinking, reading difficulty, math difficulty, difficulty predicting outcomes, sensory difficulty, slower processing speed (auditory or visual), impulsivity, reduced social skills, anxiety, self-harm, and low self-esteem.
Symptoms can arise at any time during childhood. If parents see these signs in their children, parents should seek out an FASD clinic or a state or national FASD organization. For therapies, occupational and speech therapy tend to be most useful. Natalie also recommends that parents get neurobehavioral or brain based training. Accommodations are key for children with FASD. It is key to focus on the strengths of that child. Accommodations could include visual and tactile cues, extra time, extra emotional support, extra support, minimizing florescent lights, and/or keeping directions short and simple. It is incredibly important to create supports for these children.
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Hosted by: Jessica Temple and Lewis Temple
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Copyright 2020 Jessica and Lewis Temple