Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in Northern California
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
Occur in between 2 and 5% of the population.
Can produce symptoms of Bipolar Disorder, AD/HD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Learning Disabilities, Reactive Attachment Disorders--and bad parenting--among others.
Go almost entirely unrecognized*, as most people with FASD have normal IQ, speech and appearance. Only a small fraction have the facial features of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Range widely in severity and presentation from mental retardation to mild attention, learning or social problems. Almost always impair reasoning, planning, judgment and memory. Frequently cause sensory disturbance.
Do not respond to normal parenting/teaching approaches. Without diagnosis and support, parents feel crazy, ashamed and exhausted, as the rest of the world freely offers its criticism and incorrect (and contradictory) remedies to distressing behavior.
Cause undiagnosed people with FASD to feel crazy, ashamed and exhausted because they consistently do not meet expectations (including their own) even though they may be trying their very hardest.
Fill our jails and prisons, homeless shelters and hospital emergency rooms, chronic welfare caseloads and substance abuse centers.
Are particularly common in foster care, where there is additional complication from trauma and neglect.
When recognized and appropriately addressed**, can be managed so that the person's true gifts have a chance to bloom.
ARE --THIS SHOULD GO WITHOUT SAYING-- ENTIRELY PREVENTABLE. Exactly how much alcohol it takes to cause damage depends on a combination of genetics, other substances and life circumstances of the mother. It is ALWAYS a gamble...not unlike Russian Roulette. Studies show that impairments can result from very modest drinking.
Women with college educations and incomes over $50K are the most likely to keep drinking even after being counseled to stop. Their affected children are often diagnosed with complex AD/HD. Therapeutic residential schools are full of such children.
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*Outside of areas that have awakened to the reality of FASD--Washington, Alaska, Minnesota and Canada being excellent examples.