By Icia Reid-Sandulak
FAS can be a lifelong neurobehavioral birth defect caused by women consuming alcohol during pregnancy. This behavior is a negative consequence of alcohol consumption sometimes leading to developmental birth defects. Some children may only display partial effects of the syndrome, which would be considered (FAE) Alcohol Fetal Effects. Some children may also display some of the problems as full-blown FAS. All FAS/FAE determination must be diagnosed by a geneticist, a doctor who is trained in genetically-linked diseases.
Typically, physical characteristics of FAS/FAE may include the following: appear to be shorter in stature, have a small head, and are below percentile compared to national norms. They may present with dysmorphic facial features. Other distinct characteristics may involve a smooth area between the nose and mouth, a flatting between the mid-face, thin upper lip, short eye openings, and a shorter upturned nose.
There are many behavioral characteristics associated with FAS/FAE such as, clumsiness, toileting issues, poor memory, hygiene issues, irritability, destructiveness, failure in school, severe defiance, hyperactivity at times, loud with no concept of volume, low IQ, poor eye contact at times, lack of social skills showing lack of awareness in reading body language, and difficulty understanding and obeying laws. At times, FAS/FAE individuals thrive in potentially dangerous situations, display inappropriate behavior, have difficulty following directions, victimize and are cruel to animals, display manipulative behavior, and lie and steal. At times, FAS/FAE individuals find it difficult to pass on messages and fail to understand cause and effect. There is no cure for FAS/FAE, as this is a lifelong disorder. Don’t give up just yet, as there are skills that can be taught, but constant reminders will be needed to maintain the skills taught. If you are someone who is struggling with a child who has FAS/FAE or is suspected of having FAS/FAE, seek professional help.
Icia Reid-Sandulak is the Director of Apple Grove Foster Care Agency and is a Social Worker. Apple Grove specializes in therapeutic foster care and welcomes applications from future foster parents. She can be reached at 702-992-0576 .