This blog is a place where we can join together and provide understanding, help, and resources to help one another find our way through this journey. Living with FASD is often a challenging journey with many different 'waves', 'storms', and even 'hurricanes', and we're here to help each other as we journey through these challenges, but would ask that comments remain positive, uplifting and helpful. Thank you.
"Acceptance doesn't mean resignation. It means understanding that something is what it is and there's got to be a way through it." -Michael J. Fox

F.A.S.D. Basics

Alcohol is a teratogen, which means it crosses the placenta barrier and causes damage to the brain.  The surgeon general says that there is NO AMOUNT OF SAFE ALCOHOL DURING PREGNANCY.  There are 3 reasons why woman may drink when they are pregnant:  1) addiction to drinking 2) she didn't know she was pregnant 3) mis-informed:  she didn't know that alcohol CAN cause harm to the unborn baby.
It is NOT SAFE to drink during ANY part of the pregnancy.  50,000 brain cells form each second during pregnancy.  Drinking alcohol in moderation is NOT SAFE.  Red wine is NOT SAFE.  Alcohol is alcohol and any form of alcohol can harm the unborn baby.  Four factors affect how the alcohol will affect the unborn baby:  1. Timing of exposure to alcohol (1st Trimester is most damaging, BUT remember, alcohol can be damaging in ALL trimesters) 2. Amount of alcohol (Binge drinking is more likely to cause more harm) 3. diet and metabolism of mother  4. resiliency of the fetus:  we each have a different resiliency (more likely to get sick, etc.)  Exposure to alcohol in pregnancy is going to affect each individual differently and in varying degrees.  However, this fact remains: alcohol can take potential away.

Alcohol exposure to the unborn baby can effect/damage the CORPUS CALLOSUM, which affects memory and communication.  It can also effect other areas of the brain.  It often greatly effects the FRONTAL LOBES, which affects impulsive behavior, decision making, judgement/problem solving, generalize learning, attention (being "tuned in"), understanding social cues.
Persons with an FASD may also struggle with attention deficit, hyperactivity, memory deficit, difficulty with abstract, inability to manage money, difficulty with the passage time, lack of control over emotions, and difficulty understanding cause and effect (consequences).

Examples of some of these behaviors: 
1)  Impulsive behaviors/Consequences:  A child with an FASD is continually stealing. (impulsive behavior)  The parent imposes consequences; however, the child continues to steal.  Finally, the parent imposes a harsher consequence:  "if you steal again, we will throw away your blanket" (a blanket that the child is greatly attached to and loves).  The child steals again, the blanket is thrown away; however, the child steals again the very next day.  Consequences do not help the child change behavior in the long term.  Short term consequences are more effective.  The same child is asked (after stealing), "Who do I need to give this back to?" and the child is told if he/she answers right away, there will be no consequence.  The child answers right away.  The difference here is that the consequence is immediate/short-term.  There is no set formula for how a child with an FASD will respond to consequences. The point is that it is difficult for persons with an FASD to understand cause and effect and consequences are typically ineffective in changing their behaviors.

2) Time and Money:  Typically, a person with an FASD can spend his/her paycheck immediately...and do not have a good concept of saving money and paying bills.  A person with an FASD will need an "external brain": someone to help him/her manage money and time.

3)  Generalizing:  A child with an FASD sees an ad for a free cel phone.  It is explained to the child that the little * by the "free cel phone" explains terms of use, which cost money.  The child understand what is said; however, the next day the child sees a new ad for a "free cel phone" and is unable to generalize that what was taught applies to all "free cel phones".

4)  Memory:  A mother works for hours with her child, practicing times tables. By the end of the practicing, the child is able to answer several answers correctly.  The very next day they work on the same times tables, and the child is unable to answer them correctly.  This is just one example of how memory can be affected.

Problems usually becomes more noticeable as the child reaches about the age of 4th grade.  In school, from Kindergarten to 2nd/3rd grade most of the skills learned are concrete.  At 3rd or 4th grade the curriculum becomes more abstract, and the child's social inadequacies are more noticeable by his/her peers.  In general, a person with an FASD's emotional age is about 1/2 of his/her chronological age.  So a 10 year old, appears to be about 5 years old emotionally, and this becomes more noticeable to peers as the child grows older.

ARND (Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder) is an invisible, hidden disability because the child appears normal physically (child doens't have the facial features of FAS); however, the brain's ability to function has been impaired.  The person is expected to perform as a normal child would because he/she appears normal; however, the person with an ARND does not have the same brain capacity/ability to function as a normal child does.

(Source: webex given by Barb Clark through the MOFAS organization (

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