Developmental and Behavioral Issues in Children
Sr. Suzette Fisher,
Program Director, Double ARC Center for FASD at A Renewed Mind
Children can have many reasons for developmental disabilities but the leading known cause is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Children who are exposed prenatally to alcohol are more common than most people realize. Research studies indicate that as many as 1 in 20 school children are affected by prenatal alcohol exposure. Most are undiagnosed. April is Alcohol Awareness Month and it’s important to know the effects of alcohol on the unborn baby which causes lifelong issues.
Some of the disabilities associated with FASD are cognitive delays with learning and memory, processing deficits, language delays, difficulty understanding cause/effect and consequences. People with FASD are concrete/literal thinkers and struggle with abstract concepts, decision making, and problem solving. They have poor judgment and difficulty generalizing from one situation to another. They often have motor functioning issues and are negatively affected by sensory input. Most have attention difficulties, impulsivity, distractibility, disorganization, difficulty completing tasks, and trouble transitioning.
Low adaptive behavior and poor social skills are hallmark characteristics of FASD. In most cases individuals with FASD often have IQ scores that do not reflect their full range of deficits. In fact, researcher, Ed Riley, PhD., found that their social skills are arrested at age 6.
FASD is an invisible handicapping condition that cause challenges for parents, teachers and the community. But it’s most difficult for individuals who look “normal” but have these conditions.
But we cannot disregard their abilities/strengths. They can be friendly, likable, helpful, generous, caring, and charming. They can be bright in some areas and often talk better than they understand which masks their disabilities. Sometimes, they even have points of insight and are quite determined. Because of their dysmaturity, they are good with, and often prefer, playing with younger children.
Getting a child diagnosed who exhibits these difficulties and strengths is very important. It helps the family members understand that individuals with FASD have these handicapping conditions with lifelong implications due to permanent brain damage. Through reframing their thinking, being supportive, and putting services in place to help them navigate successfully through their world these children and family members can find a “new normal.” Without support, these disabilities can lead to secondary characteristics like mental health issues, trouble with the law, disrupted school experience, and drug and alcohol abuse among others.
The Maumee Rotary has been a wonderful financial supporter of our diagnostic services, and training. Anyone with a child who may exhibit the developmental and cognitive issues mentioned is encouraged to call The Double ARC Center for FASD at A Renewed Mind at 419.479.3060. Through our FASD expertise and A Renewed Mind’s mental health expertise a child with FASD can realize his or her own full potential. Check out www.doublearc.org or www.arenewedmindservices.org for more information.