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

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

Date:
October 27, 2014
Source:
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>.