|Understanding Fetal Alcohol Syndrome / Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (FAS/ARND)|
FAS/ARND is often termed an 'invisible physical handicapping condition'. The effects of prenatal alcohol and other drug exposure on the developing brain are the most debilitating aspect of this condition. These effects are invisible. The only indicators of this physical disability are found in learning and other behavioral characteristics.
Parents and professionals often find standard techniques are ineffective. Many people experience increasing frustration over time when childrens' behaviors are unresponsive to traditional interventions. Until recently, there has been little information linking the "organicity", or neurological differences associated with FAS/ARND, with behaviors.
Information linking brain function with behaviors increases understanding, reduces frustration, and contributes to successful outcomes. Knowledge about FAS/ARND and organicity provides a way to shift perceptions: Children may be understood as having a problem rather than being the problem.
As a result, rethinking and reframing interpretations of behaviors contributes to developing effective and appropriate strategies, 'trying differently rather than trying harder.' Successful strategies support children, and contribute to the well-being of parents and professionals.
FASCETS supports the development of a family centered, community-based, multidisciplinary continuum of care. This collaborative design has been found to be effective in enhancing communication among parents and professionals for their mutual benefit.
The following neurodevelopmental characteristics are commonly associated with FAS/ARND. No one or two is necessarily diagnostically significant; many overlap characteristics of other diagnoses, e.g. ADD/ADHD, learning disabilities, and others.Typical primary characteristics in children, adolescents, and adults include:
Many people with FAS/FAE have strengths which mask their cognitive challenges.
In the absence of identification, people with FAS/FAE often experience chronic frustration. Over time, patterns of defensive behaviors commonly develop. These characteristics are believed to be preventable with appropriate supports.