FASD is the abbreviated term for Fetol Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, a range of disorders resulting from prenatal exposure to alcohol. This means alcohol was consumed during pregnancy that has interrupted or damaged the developing brain.
Until march '22 FASD was an umbrella term used to cover different diagnosis'.
It is now a medical term and a diagnosis in itself.
Every year in the UK 7000 babies are born with *FASD; a type of brain damage caused when an unborn child is exposed to alcohol in the womb.
Many of these babies will find themselves among the 70,000 vulnerable children in our care system and making up the numbers in a statistic that claims 75% of looked-after children have a background involving drug and alcohol misuse, and are therefore likely candidates for this condition.
There are many variables which means the damage caused by FASD is different for each child with a few common themes.
With the right family set-up, a stable environment and some well directed support children with FASD can thrive but sadly this is often not the case. For many reasons a diagnoses has been difficult and without it, the support that is so fundamental to them, especially within school, has been nearly impossible to acquire.
The result is that many of these children under-achieve and become disengaged once the structure of school starts to kick in. They can present as disruptive and nobody seems to knows how to advocate for them effectively.
When these children are not supported the outcomes are catastrophic...
Families and placements break down as they struggle to understand and manage the behaviours; secondary conditions begin to emerge such as mental health problems, self-harming, substance abuse; truancy and brushes with the law.
Data indicates that the average life expectancy of a child with FAS is just 34 years old - the most common causes recorded as suicide and drug/alcohol.
This is not FASD.
These are secondary issues arising from children with FASD falling through the cracks.
It is simply what happens when children are missed.
FASD is brain damage.
In real terms, it looks like developmental delay, learning disabilities, issues with organisation, memory and social skills. It may include sensory issues and some health concerns. It is a wide spectrum of disorders and it looks slightly different for every child.
Implementing support doesn’t need to be expensive, time-consuming or difficult but it does need to address the core issues.
When done well, it can yield fruit very quickly enabling children with FASD to lead happier, more fulfilling lives and relieving pressure from those around them.
There is no reason why children with FASD can’t go on to contribute to society in a way that is as meaningful as their peers and there is no reason why they can’t be as enjoyable and enchanting as every other child along the way.
We just have to know what to do.