Glossary

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Depression
A general term for “the blues,” a temporary sadness or loss of pleasure. Clinical depression is a prolonged state of sadness or despair that disrupts a person’s social functioning and/or activities of daily living. The condition includes clusters of symptoms such as markedly-decreased mood, motivation, interest, and energy levels.

Developmental delay
An impairment in the performance of tasks or the meeting of milestones that a child should achieve by a specific chronological age. Developmental delay is diagnosed by assessing cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development, as well as communication and adaptive skills.

Developmental disability
By definition, a developmental disability is 1) lifelong in nature, 2) manifests itself prior to the age of 22, and 3) requires on-going services and supports. A developmental disability must also result in substantial functional limitations in three or more major life activities, such as self-care, expressive or receptive language, mobility, self-direction, and one’s capacity for employment or independent living. Most people with FASD have trouble in all these areas, except mobility.

Developmental pediatrician
A medical doctor who diagnoses and manages children with conditions that are associated with growth and development.

Disease
A cluster of symptoms with a single, known cause. For example, malaria is a disease caused by a bite from a mosquito infected with a parasite.

Disorder
A disease-producing condition of the mind or body, characterized by a cluster of symptoms with specific diagnostic criteria. For example, the diagnostic criteria for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders include maternal alcohol consumption, growth retardation, and central nervous system developmental abnormalities.

Dissociative disorders
A group of disorders where the common thread is a lack of connection in a person's thoughts, memories, feelings, actions, or sense of identity. Certain information is not associated with other information as it normally would be.

Dietitian
A trained and registered expert in food and nutrition. Dietitians work in hospitals, in research, and for food companies. Dietitians can develop modified diets, supervise in food preparation and service, and educate people on good nutritional habits.

DSM IV
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. Provides clinicians with diagnostic classifications (codes) for recognized psychiatric disorders only.

Dysmorphic
Misshapen. A dysmorphic feature is body characteristic that is abnormally formed. Children with FASD often have dysmorphic features.

Dysmorphologist
A pediatrician who has trained 2 - 3 additional years in the prevention, causes, and treatment of developmental abnormalities. In determining whether a person has FASD or not, a dysmorphologist looks at facial features along with other physical features, such as the ears, hands, fingers, fingernails, legs, feet and other structures. A dysmorphologist often works in tandem with a geneticist.

Echocardiogram (ECG)
An ultrasound of the heart. One type of ECG shows the structures. Another type of ECG can estimate velocity of blood flow, cardiac output, and valve function.

Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)
A graphic record and measurement of the heart’s electrical activity. Electrical changes cause the heart chambers to contract and pump the blood throughout the body. An EKG can detect problems in that “rhythm,” as well as heart attacks, stress on the heart, metabolic problems, and other conditions.

Electroencephalogram (EEG)
A graphic record of the brain’s electrical activity. Electrodes placed on the scalp pick up electrical signals from neurons. Voltage differences are measured between different parts of the brain. EEGs are used frequently to diagnose epilepsy, sleep disorders, certain forms of dementia, and other neurological problems.

Endocrinologist
A physician who specializes in understanding the structure and function of “ductless glands” such as the thyroid, thymus, pituitary, pancreas, and adrenal glands. These glands secrete hormones that have wide-ranging effects on many organs.

Epilepsy
A condition marked by recurrent seizure activity. Seizures are firecracker-like discharges of electrical activity in the brain. Seizures can manifest themselves in many ways: from slightly altered states of consciousness to convulsions. May co-exist with FASD.

Executive functioning
Higher-order cognitive processes involving logic, planning, analysis, and reasoning, which enable us to think abstractly, strategize, solve problems, set goals, make alternate plans, and learn from previous experience. Executive functioning enables us to differentiate good/bad, better/best, same/different, future consequences of current activities, and predicted outcomes. It also exerts “social control” (the ability to suppress urges that could lead to socially unacceptable or illegal outcomes). A hallmark of FASD is greatly impaired executive functioning.

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