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.
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