Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Fact Sheet

  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the name given to a group of physical and mental birth defects that are the direct result of a woman's drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
  • According to self-reports from case workers specifically working with American Indians, FAS/FAE affects about one out of four individuals. Many Indians believe this count to be very low as too many of these people may slip past these over burdened case workers.
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a series of mental and physical birth defects that can include mental retardation, growth deficiencies, central nervous system dysfunction, craniofacial abnormalities and behavioral maladjustment's. Fetal Alcohol Effect is a less severe set of the same symptoms.

What babies are "at risk" for FAS and FAE?

  • Whenever a mother drinks, her baby is at risk for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Effect. When a pregnant women drinks alcohol, her baby does too. It is not clear whether there is a threshold amount of alcohol that must be consumed before damage to the baby occurs.

Is there a cure for FAS?

  • There is no cure for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Once the damage is done, it cannot be undone. However, FAS is the only cause of birth defects that can be completely prevented.

How can FAS be prevented?

  • The easiest way for a woman to prevent FAS is to not drink during pregnancy. Communities, schools, and concerned individuals can help to prevent FAS/FAE, through education and intervention.

According to numerous sources it has been demonstrated that FAS individuals:

  • Have difficulty structuring work time.
  • Show impaired rates of learning.
  • Experience poor memory.
  • Have trouble generalizing behaviors and information.
  • Act impulsively.
  • Exhibit reduced attention span or is distractible.
  • Display fearlessness and are unresponsive to verbal cautions.
  • Demonstrate poor social judgment.
  • Cannot handle money appropriate to their age.
  • Have trouble internalizing modeled behaviors.
  • May have differences in sensory awareness.
  • Language Production higher than comprehension.
  • Show poor problem solving strategies.

Effective intervention strategies include:

  • Fostering independence in self-help and play.
  • Give your child choices and encourage decision-making.
  • Focus on teaching daily living skills.
  • Encourage the use of positive self talk
  • Have child get ready for next school day before going to bed.
  • Establish a few simple rules. Use identical language to remind them of the rules.
  • Establish routines so child can predict coming events.
  • Give child lots of advance warning that activity will soon change to another one.
  • For unpredictable behavior at bedtime/mealtime, establish a firm routine.
  • Break their work down into small pieces so they do not feel overwhelmed.
  • Be concrete when teaching a new concept. Show them.

Behavior Strategies:

  • Set limits and follow them consistently.
  • Change rewards often to keep interest in reward getting high.
  • Review and repeat consequences of behaviors.
  • Notice and comment when your child is doing well or behaving appropriately.
  • Avoid threats.
  • Redirect behavior.
  • Intervene before behavior escalates.
  • Avoid situations where child will be over stimulated.
  • Have child repeat back their understanding of directions.
  • Protect them from being exploited.
  • Have pre-established consequences for misbehavior.
For more information, please contact Do 2 Learn.

Source: National Organization for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

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