Raising a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Effect is a long-haul process. Depending on the volume of alcohol consumed by the birth mother during pregnancy, the damage to the child can be minimal or overwhelming. According to reliable research data, approximately one in seven pregnant women drink alcohol at some time while pregnant, and one in 30 women engage in high-risk drinking--defined as having five or more alcoholic drinks in one setting, or seven or more drinks in a week. The residual effects of alcohol in the mother's bloodstream, which eventually crosses the placenta, can lead to a multitude of cognitive and physical problems.
Common features of FAS include reduced physical growth, behavioral problems & hyperactivity, poor coordination and balance, learning disorders, and even serious physical problems such as delayed brain development along with heart and kidney defects. An adoptive mom recently shared with me about her son, who was born at 26 weeks with FAS. She states “He came out early—he had to—he had to get away from the alcohol (in the womb).”
But again, let us be reminded that there is HOPE for these children. Parents, here are some more hopeful and helpful strategies if you are parenting a child with FAS or FAE:
It is very important for you to continually educate yourself on the aspects and challenges of FAS/FAE. Doing so also helps you to proactively advocate for our child in the school setting.
Join an in-person or online parent support group. Check out Families Moving Forward, a program that helps children with FAS/FAE and their families. Also, check out Parents Helping Parents at php.com/fetalalcohol. There may also be a support group in your general area that you can locate via a Google search.
Give your child positive messages every day.
Choose your battles
Teach healthy and safe boundaries
Take care of yourself! – If available and affordable, take advantage of respite services.
Break your child’s chore list down to small, manageable tasks—“One thing at a time.”
When explaining things to your child, keep it simple, short and to the point. No need for long explanations or lectures.