Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

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Q:   I have a foster child whom I suspect may have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  What are the symptoms, and do school programs exists to support education for children with this diagnosis?   

A:   There are no simple answers to your questions about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).

First of all, the Syndrome is the result of the fetus being exposed to alcohol in utero by the mother's abuse of alcohol during pregnancy. FAS itself is diagnosed, with difficulty, only if the alcohol exposure is known.

It is a syndrome that has a wide range of manifestations. Some children have very few problems while others have severe deficits, such as facial abnormalities, low IQ, learning disabilities, ADHD (attention deficit hyperativity disorder)-like symptoms. The diagnosis must be made by an experienced clinician.

No treatments are universally effective for FAS or the variants on the continuum which includes the designation, Fetal Alcohol Effects.

I know of no specifically designed school programs that address Fetal Alcohol syndrome, exclusive to other types of learning and behavior problems. Most school programs for special needs are problem-focused, such as BD (Behavioral Disorder) programs for children with behavior problems, or special education programs that focus on the learning disabilities. Programs and medical interventions need to be tailored to the child's needs.

Counseling and therapy services are available at the Alegent Health Psychiatric Associates. We have many convenient locations. Call 402-717-HOPE (4673) for more information.