Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is a term that covers a wide range of symptoms, signs and effects that are associated with exposure to alcohol before birth. Because an unborn child is exposed to alcohol during its vital developmental stages, the resulting abnormalities can affect the child for the remainder of his or her life. FASD can affect every aspect of the child’s being, including behavior, physical and mental health, and the ability to learn.
Signs and Symptoms of a Child with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Children who are born with the disorder can exhibit any number of signs and symptoms. Intellectual and cognitive disabilities are common. Physical defects, including heart, kidney and bone abnormalities, are possible. A child’s growth may be dramatically slowed and his ability to take on physical challenges may be difficult. The child may exhibit poor coordination and loss of balance. Learning disorders are also common. Every child is different, so the extent of his or her disorder is affected by the level of exposure as well as by other aspects of the child’s overall health.
Other Possible Effects
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome may be characterized by abnormalities to the central nervous system, facial abnormalities, and height and weight that is below average for the child’s age. Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder, or ARND, is similar to FAS and PFAS; only the children do not have any visible abnormalities. With this disorder, the most common signs are learning problems and behavioral issues. Nerve and brain issues are also possible.
Resources for Raising a Child with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
You’re not alone! Being the caregiver for a child with FASD can be overwhelming. Talk to counselors at your child’s school or daycare. Find a support group for caregivers where you can exchange ideas and just have someone else to talk to so that you know you aren’t alone. RISE offers Early Intervention Services that are designed to assist parents in providing their children with the best start possible. Their Early Intervention Program offers services to children up to 3 years of age. A few of the services they offer include speech therapy, feeding therapy, physical therapy and special development instruction.
If you are interested in learning more about FASD and caring for both your child and yourself, you can find additional information at FASD Communities. Visit the website and discover all of the opportunities that are available for you and your child.