Tag Archives: foetal alcohol syndrome



Reading an article in our local community newspaper today, was the first time I ever heard of this disorder. Have you heard of this disorder before?

Well, apparently this disorder results in birth defects when mothers continuously consume alcohol during their pregnancies. The age of a child with FASD can be halved to see where they are developmentally. FASD causes physical, cognitive and behavioural disabilities, all of which have lifelong implications.

Educational perspective:
Most children with FASD are specifically affected in cognitive processing, executive functioning, motor functioning, attention and hyperactivity, social skills and pragmatic language. They often have sensory problems, poor ability to understand the perspectives of others, poor cause-effect reasoning, memory defects and difficulty responding appropriately to common parenting and teaching practices.

Essentially, children with FASD are brain damaged and everyday life can be a major challenge for them. Everyday for a child with FASD is like climbing a mountain as they struggle to learn and grasp the simplest concepts.

Children with FASD are easily distracted and need to be taught in separate cubicles. They work best in controlled and structured environments. They are destructive, they do not listen, fight, throw toys and don’t have social skills. Sometimes they scream when they can’t get their way immediately. This is when they need to be given time to calm down before they can continue with their activities.

FASD cannot be cured, but the intervention methods used and coping mechanisms they are taught can prevent the disorder from progressing. FASD children do not understand abstract concepts. For example: if you say “you are the apple of my eye”, they will say I am not an apple and I am not in your eye, because they don’t understand.

The Home of Hope in Table View, Cape Town, Western Cape, runs the only school in South Africa for children with FASD, called The Amathemba School which was started in 2010 and the first of its kind in Africa.

Volunteers will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro on 9 September 2013 to raise funds to extend the school’s services to more children. The significance of 9 September is that it is International FASD day and also represents the nine (9) months a woman needs to abstain from drinking alcohol.

To help donate to their climb up Mount Kilimanjaro, please telephone +27 21 556-3573

Adapted from original article in Athlone News (Community Newspaper) 26 June 2013: pg 22 – written by Faatimah Hendricks

Where did we go wrong?


Reading a story in one of the community newspapers this week, made me ask the question – where did we go wrong?

The headline of the article: “Breeding” disabled children speaks of how teenage girls are deliberately falling pregnant and abuse alcohol to ensure the child is born disabled in order for them to qualify for a Care Dependency Grant. The logic, apparently is as follows:

In South Africa, financially strained parents qualify for a Child Support Grant of R280.00 per month which is barely enough to buy nappies (diapers) but if you have a disabled child you are caring for, you qualify for a Care Dependency Grant of R1200.00 until the child turns 18 years of age.

The 16 year old mother interviewed for this story said “I needed her to be born this way, I needed the money”. The toddler (3 years old) has Foetal Alcohol Syndrome – hardly able to walk and her vocabulary consists only of “mamma” and “no”.

This mother receives a Care Dependency Grant of R1200.00 per month but most of the money goes towards supporting her alcoholic mother and 8 year old half-brother. The teenage mother describes herself as “not very bright” and has little aspirations. She went on to say that she went to school because there was nothing else to do. It was, apparently at school that she heard from a friend that her mother receives more than R1000.00 for her crippled brother. To the teenager, this sounded like a fortune. She then decided that a baby – hopefully a deformed one – would help her contribute to her family’s income. After 3 months of trying the teenager finally fell pregnant. Her boyfriend was 14 years old at the time.

This teenager knew that alcohol abuse could lead to the baby she was carrying being born mentally disabled, so she made sure that she drank a little more than usual while she was pregnant. She went on to say that although her daughter is “quite a handful”, she does not regret her actions.

Where did we, as a society go wrong? How did we allow the “handout mentality” to become so prevalent and acceptable? Surely the poor and impoverished have not just sprung up overnight? I’m sure many of us had grandparents or great grandparents who were impoverished or poor, who lived in sub economic townhouses?

My own grandparents had minimal education, earned the barest minimum wage (when they were lucky enough to be employed) but they fought hard to make sure their children were better educated in order for them to find decent paid work to support their families. My parents and their siblings, in turn, ensured that we received even better education to ensure that we were able to get better, decent, well paying jobs.

What has happened to us as families and as a society? What happened to this drive and determination to create a better life for ourselves and our children? When did it become the responsibility of government and everyone else to give handouts? Have these handouts (in the form of government social grants) become an easy way out – a “cop out”? Has government become an enabler to the “handout mentality” so prevalent in our society today?

As women, what has happened to our pride and dignity? Have we allowed our submission to the “handout mentality” to swallow our pride and dignity as well? Women no longer cook and bake themselves – if it cannot be heated in the microwave, our families don’t eat. Women no longer make or mend their own clothes – we buy more and we want new clothes all the time – not prepared to settle for second hand clothing either. Food gardens no longer exist – if we cannot run down to buy from the local supermarket or food market, we don’t have food to eat, the list is endless.

So . . . where did we go wrong . . . ?