Have You Taught Your Children About FASD?

It truly takes a whole village to raise a child! We must ALL work together to help the next generation! I remember once seeing a young girl in a restaurant and she had started to take a drink of wine. I ran up to her and stopped that drink. She said it was the first ‘drink’ she had since she found out she was pregnant. She then went on to say it was her Birthday and she was celebrating. I am always surprised by the lack of knowledge of FASD, but went on to explain even 1 drink can make a life-long permanent change in the brain of a baby, depending on what part of the brain is being ‘developed’ at the time of ingestion. It is truly our responsibility to help others become aware of how their actions will affect others!

“Is it safe to drink a little alcohol while pregnant, such as an occasional glass of wine?

No. According to the CDC and the U.S. Surgeon General, “There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant. There is also no safe time during pregnancy to drink and no safe kind of alcohol.”  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics: “There is no safe amount of alcohol when a woman is pregnant. Evidence based research states that even drinking small amounts of alcohol while pregnant can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, prematurity, or sudden infant death syndrome.”

When you drink alcohol, so does your developing baby. Any amount of alcohol, even in one glass of wine, passes through the placenta from the mother to the growing baby.  Developing babies lack the ability to process, or metabolize, alcohol through the liver or other organs.  They absorb all of the alcohol and have the same blood alcohol concentration as the mother.  It makes no difference if the alcoholic drink consumed is a distilled spirit or liquor such as vodka, beer, or wine.”  http://www.nofas.org/light-drinking/

Thirty-two years ago we adopted a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  Her birth Mother was 14 years old.  When we found our little girl when she was 18 months old.  She had no verbal language ability and severe global Apraxia, she was diagnosed with a profound sensory neural loss in her left ear (no functional hearing) and a conductive moderate loss in her right ear. She was unable to stand on her own, was not crawling yet and had a pinched torticollis (which now has left her with hands shaking and a lack of balance).  My heart went out to her and we have spent the last 30 years advocating for her.  She has had a VERY difficult life and continues to have significant problems due to her birth parents being very young, uneducated, and intensely self-involved (as many teens are).

Our children are having babies and they MUST understand the ramifications of even 1 drink while they are pregnant. We are responsible for teaching them.  The time that is the most impressionable to the brain is in the first trimester when many girls do not even know they are pregnant.  Therefore, to a girl that is sexually active everyday must be treated as if today is the day a new life may begin…

The Effects of Subtle FAS:

Fetal Alcohol has a spectrum from mild to severe some of the most mild may look like ADHD but the cognitive effects can be severe and lasting a life time.

  • Learning information and remembering/retaining information
  • Understanding and following auditory, visual or written directions
  • Controlling emotions, highs and lows
  • Communicating and socializing (many times inappropriate)
  • Behavioral concerns ( can be angry and volatile)
  • Daily life skills, such as feeding, brushing teeth, bathing are forgotten
  • No impulse control
  • Not able to learn from their mistakes
  • Auditory Processing problems (unable to understand directions, or listen to more than 1 thing at a time)
  • Attention Problems- Can not stay focused on the topic,
  • Specific Learning Disabilities- Math, Reading Comprehension,

The mild cases are most challenging in some ways, they do not look as if anything is wrong and the individual may even be very bright however, the more subtle brain damage can be the most devastating to an individual.  They know they should be able to learn, that they are different and that they do not have the emotional control that others their age have.

Any alcohol at any time during a pregnancy may have a life-time effect on the baby’s brain.

Do you really want to take a chance on a lifelong disability for your child?  Is that one glass of wine worth the possibilities of FAS?  It is not just YOUR life that is affected.  Your child may look ‘normal’ and have life long cognitive, emotional and psychological damage.

I want to thank our daughter for being so patient with the world…learning how to accept life based on a ‘non-handicapped person’s’ view of what the environment and conditions of the world should be like for her. You have raised us to be more understanding and more compassionate because of your willingness to wait on us to ‘come around’ to your needs. The world will learn someday!  You are a brave girl living with this condition as you put on your huge forgiving smile and continue to struggle daily to learn, live and love…and all because of the pleasure of a few drinks of alcohol for one very young, immature, uninformed girl. I want to promise you sweetie, we will educate the world…because FASD is 100% preventable and it is a horrific burden for all of those suffering with this condition to bear.

Lise’ DeLong, Ph.D., CPCRT


The Brain that Trains Itself

What?  Brains can train themselves?  YES!

We have known for years about Neuroplasticity  which is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by creating new neural connections.  Neurons or nerve cells in the brain will learn a new pathway to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or even changes in their daily environment.

For the first time a system has discovered a method of recording the brain’s cortical activity and ‘mirroring back’ to itself (256 times per second) what it just did so it can learn from it’s own actions or brain events.  As the brain is presented this information it reorganizes and learns from itself!

As this balance occurs the person will first be able to sleep better; falling asleep within 5-20 minutes, staying asleep all night (without too much tossing or turning) and waking feeling refreshed.  This first change helps to generate an environment that allows a reduction in many of the symptoms people have such as; anxiety,  depression, reactions to stress, rumination (repeating certain thoughts over and over) and learning new skills or learning to compensate for lost skills.

This tool has been specially designed to allow for ease of use in the office for therapists or technicians and for families in their home.  It is a simple product that is robust and consistent.  People use this system for attention, memory, sleep, stress, mood concerns, peak performance, brain injuries such as traumatic brain disorders, strokes, concussive syndromes and trauma.

If you are interested in learning more about how to retrain your brain and take advantage of the process of neuroplasticity using the NeurOptimal system call us at 317-258-7444 and we will share more information with you!

A thought from Dr. Lise’






Teaching Effective Ways to Communicate with Your Autistic Child

Parents you may want to look at a researched and validated therapeutic method of learning how to communicate with your child.  

Group classes teach parents effective autism therapy, study finds

October 27, 2014
Stanford University Medical Center

Parents can learn to use a scientifically validated autism therapy with their own children by taking a short series of group classes, a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford has found.

The therapy helped children improve their language skills, an area of deficiency in autism, according to the study, which will be published Oct. 27 in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. The study is the first randomized, controlled trial to test whether group classes are a good way to train parents on using an autism therapy.

“We’re teaching parents to become more than parents,” said the study’s lead author, Antonio Hardan, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, who directs the hospital’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic. “What we’re most excited about is that parents are able to learn this intervention and implement it with their kids.”

The treatment is not intended to replace autism therapies administered by professionals, but rather to improve parents’ ability to help their children learn from everyday interactions.

“There are two benefits: The child can make progress, and the parents leave the treatment program better equipped to facilitate the child’s development over the course of their daily routines,” said study co-author Grace Gengoux, PhD, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and a psychologist specializing in autism treatment at the hospital. “The ways that parents instinctually interact with children to guide language development may not work for a child with autism, which can frustrate parents. Other studies have shown that learning this treatment reduces parents’ stress and improves their happiness. Parents benefit from knowing how to help their children learn.”

Rewarding the Child

The therapy used in the 12-week study, called pivotal response training, has been shown in previous studies to help children with autism. To use the treatment for building language skills, parents identify something the child wants and systematically reward the child for trying to talk about it. For instance, if the child reaches for a ball, the parent says, “Do you want the ball? Say ‘ball.'”

“The child might say ‘ba,’ and you reward him by giving him the ball,” Hardan said. “Parents can create opportunities for this treatment to work at the dinner table, in the park, in the car, while they’re out for a walk.”

The method has roots in other behavioral therapies for autism, such as applied behavior analysis, but is more flexible than many such programs and makes greater use of the child’s own interests and motivations.

Fifty-three children with autism and their parents participated in the study. The children ranged in age from 2 to 6. All had language delays. The parents were randomly assigned to one of two groups: The experimental group attended 12 weeks of classes on pivotal response training, and the control group attended a 12-week program offering basic information about autism.

The children’s verbal skills were measured at the start of the study, at six weeks and at 12 weeks. At six and 12 weeks, the parents in the experimental group were video-recorded while using pivotal response training so that researchers could assess whether they were using the treatment correctly.

At the end of the study, 84 percent of parents who received instruction in pivotal response training were using the therapy correctly. Their children showed greater gains in language skills — both in the number of things they said and in their functional use of words — than children in the control group.

Empowering Parents

The researchers were encouraged to see that the group-based approach to training parents was successful and produced results quickly for the children. Rising rates of autism diagnosis have made it difficult for clinicians to meet the demand for their expertise, and groups are an efficient way to train parents. Parents also liked having the opportunity to learn from one another.

“Parents really do feel more empowered when they’re in a group setting,” said study co-author Kari Berquist, PhD, a clinical instructor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences and an autism clinician at the hospital. “They’re talking, connecting, sharing their experiences. It gives them a sense of community.”

The study provided an early hint about which children on the autism spectrum might benefit most from pivotal response training: Children with the best visual problem-solving abilities improved most with the treatment. In future studies, the researchers hope to identify good predictors of which autism therapies fit best for different children and families. They are also testing different lengths and intensities of pivotal response training to see what produces the best results.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Stanford University Medical Center. The original article was written by Erin Digitale. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Antonio Y. Hardan, Grace W. Gengoux, Kari L. Berquist, Robin A. Libove, Christina M. Ardel, Jennifer Phillips, Thomas W. Frazier, Mendy B. Minjarez. A randomized controlled trial of Pivotal Response Treatment Group for parents of children with autism.Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.12354

Cite This Page:

Stanford University Medical Center. “Group classes teach parents effective autism therapy, study finds.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 October 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141027120431.htm>.

Language Found to Increase with Early Remediation After a Stroke

Language Found to Increase with Early Remediation After a Stroke

Strokes can affect many aspects of our lives from physically moving our limbs to using or comprehending Expressive or Receptive Language. The effects are devastating!

Article on Regaining Language After a Stroke:

There are basically 3 types of strokes

1. Ischemic (clots) 87 % of strokes are an obstruction
2. Hemorrhagic (Bleeds) weakened blood vessels usually cause hemorrhagic stroke: aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). Most of these come from untreated high blood pressure
3. TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) is caused by a temporary clot. Often called a “mini stroke”,

What are the most common general effects of a stroke?

• Hemiparesis (weakness on one side of the body) or
hemiplegia (paralysis on one side of the body)
• Dysarthria (difficulty speaking or slurred speech), or
dysphagia (trouble swallowing)
• Fatigue
• Loss of emotional control and changes in mood
• Cognitive changes (problems with memory, judgment,
problem-solving or a combination of these)
• Behavior changes (personality changes, improper
language or actions)
• Decreased field of vision (inability to see peripheral
vision) and trouble with visual perception

What are common changes with a left-brain injury?

• Paralysis or weakness on the right side of the body.
• Aphasia (difficulty getting your words out or
understanding what is being said)
• Behavior that may be more reserved and cautious
than before.

What are common changes with a right-brain injury?

• Paralysis or weakness on the left side of the body.
• One-sided neglect which is a lack of awareness of the
left side of the body. It may also be a lack of awareness
of what is going on to the survivor’s left. For example,
they may only eat from the right side of their plate,
ignoring the left side.
• Behavior may be more impulsive and less cautious
than before.
• It may be harder for the survivor to understand facial
expressions and tone of voice. They also may have less
expression in their own face and tone of voice when

What are common emotional effects of stroke?

• Depression
• Apathy and lack of motivation
• Frustration, anger and sadness
• Pseudobulbar affect, also called reflex crying or
emotional lability (emotions may change rapidly and sometimes not match the mood) Denial of the changes caused by the brain injury

Courtesy of : http://www.strokeassociation.org/idc/groups/stroke-public/@wcm/@hcm/documents/downloadable/ucm_309716.pdf

Suggestions for regaining Expressive Language:

* Use rhythm sticks as you converse
* Record the stroke patient’s language as they talk ( hearing themselves can make a help them make changes)
* Use Music to sing/talk
* Use a stress reduction system to promote relaxation
* Give the person a lot of time to complete a thought or a sentence.
* Use Functional Sign Language or a visual representation of the word or concept. This serves as a ‘cue’ to the topic.


If you suspect you have had or are having a stroke, get help immediately from your local emergency facility!

For more information on Warning Signs go to:


Just Another Thought by Dr. Lise’

To Sign or NOT to Sign…that is the question

To Sign or NOT to Sign...that is the question

Over the past 40 years we have witnessed, Dr. Francine (Penny) Patterson, teach Sign Language as a way to communicate with a gorilla. Just because Koko cannot use verbal words as a basis of communication, didn’t mean that Koko didn’t have words to convey! The gorilla, being unable to verbally master the ability to talk was shown a way to communicate with sign language! What an impressive feat!

What can we all learn from Koko?

Koko knows 1000 Signs! She is able to express concepts of high-level thinking, judgement, organization, and even blame ( obviously understanding forethought). She conveys thoughts and emotions that we never conceived a gorilla could understand.

If we look at our special needs individuals, (Autism, Apraxia, Aphasia) or our adults with head injuries, or strokes we would understand that Sign Language could be an answer, to not only their communication but to their ability to understand in-depth concepts!

Concepts such as ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ are very difficult to teach and yet very ‘teachable’ when we add a visual cue. It ‘prepares’ the brain for what topic is being talked about next in a sentence.

If you have a need to facilitate communication or desire a basic understanding of signing take a look at our Functional Sign Language DVD. http://www.cognitive-connections.com/Brain-Shop/product/33-functional-sign-language-dvd-course

I believe, just as they have found with Koko, communication is a necessary part of feeling alive and connecting with one another.

Just another thought from Dr. Lise’