|Clinicians :: Interventions
For the Children
Children with FASD are often medically “fragile.” They may need surgery to correct birth defects. They frequently need the entire scope of physical rehabilitative services.
Here are some examples of services that a child with FASD may need. (This is not intended to be an exhaustive list.)
- Physical therapy-for muscle tone "normalization" (children may have a combination of hypotonia and hypertonia), gait training for delays in walking.
- Occupational therapy-for sensory integration training, cognitive therapy, fine motor skills training, abstract thinking skills and problem-solving skills for doing school work.
- Speech pathology-for sucking and feeding assistance in infants; speech training for children who are speech delayed.
- Audiology-for assessments to determine if hearing is impaired; assistive devices if impairment is diagnosed. Note: Some children with FASD may appear to have hearing problems, but the actual problem is that they can't sequence information. So if you tell them a three-step sequence of something to do, they'll get "lost" after the first step. This may come across as hearing impairment, but it's actually a cognitive deficit to be addressed.
- Neurology-for assessment and treatment of brain and neural damage caused by alcohol exposure in utero. Children with FASD often have seizures, tics and other related neurological problems.
- Optometry-for assessment (and treatment, if needed) for strabismus, amblyopia, and related conditions (often due to weak or underdeveloped eye muscles). Note: Some children with FASD may appear to have visual problems, but the actual problem is that they can't filter out extraneous information to focus on pertinent information. For example, they may not be able to "see" 2 +5 = 7 on a blackboard that has a lot of other things written on it-unless the teacher physically points to it while talking about it.
For the Birth Mothers
FASD is not hereditary, but it does tend to be generational. The Web Links and Downloads page of this section includes tools for screening and educating women about FASD. If part of your job is to screen women of childbearing age, include an assessment of their mental health and their drinking/drug usage habits. Drinking often masks underlying mental health disorders and/or FASD.
Birth mothers endanger their babies and themselves when they drink:
- 27% of all birth mothers who bear a child with FASD will be dead within 10 years of that child’s birth.
- A woman who bears one child with FASD has a 75% chance of having another affected child. Each subsequent birth results in a more severe case of FASD.
Phenotype of mothers who are likely to drink during pregnancy:
- average age is late 20s
- often don’t finish high school
- have been drinking for 10 or more years
- 2/3 are unmarried
- almost 3/4 are minorities
- often smoke and/or use other recreational drugs
- often have mental health problems (masked by alcohol/drug use)
- poor diet
- poor prenatal care (1 – 3 visits)
- have higher mortality than momthers of same age who don’t drink
FASD is 100% preventable. If the biological mother doesn’t drink at all during pregnancy, FASD doesn’t enter the picture. (Other drug usage can cause different kinds of damage to the fetus.)