MEDICAL CONDITIONS

Many waiting orphans have been diagnosed with a wide variety of medical conditions and special needs. These diagnoses range from minor and correctable, to moderate special needs, while other children are living with severe special needs that will require a lifetime of care.

Heart Defect        Cerebral Palsy        Cleft Lip Palate         Deformed and Missing Limbs        Down Syndrome       Spina Bifida     Additional

HEART DEFECT

MEDICAL DESCRIPTION

Congenital heart diseases are caused by improper heart development during fetal development. A human heart has four sections; the two top sections are the atria, and the two bottom sections are the ventricles. Defects can occur in any of these sections, as well as in the valves that control blood flow, the arteries and the veins. While heart disease may sound scary, many heart defects can be treated through medicines and/or surgery.

Some defects are mild and may go unnoticed with no apparent symptoms. Some defects are more severe. Symptoms may include the following:

  • A bluish tint to the skin, fingernails or lips
  • Trouble breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fainting
  • Feeding problems or poor weight gain

Children with congenital heart defects who receive treatment often live long, healthy, active and productive lives. The sooner congenital heart disease is diagnosed and treated, the better the chance the child has to live a healthy and normal life.

TYPES OF HEART DEFECTS

There are many different types of heart defects. The following are the most common:

  • VSD (Ventricular Septal Defect) This is a common heart condition where one or more holes occur in the muscular wall that separates the lower chambers of the heart. This hole often causes increased blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries and lungs. VSDs range in size from small to large. Small VSDs usually allow only a small amount of blood flow between the ventricles. Most small VSDs do not cause symptoms in infants and children. Most VSDs often close on their own by school age and rarely need surgery to close the defect. Moderate VSDs are less likely than small ones to close on their own. They may require surgery to close and may cause symptoms during infancy and childhood. Large VSDs allow a large amount of blood to flow from the left ventricle to the right ventricle. A large VSD causes more symptoms in infants and children, and surgery is usually needed to close it.
  • ASD (Atrial Septal Defect) This is a defect of the upper chambers of the heart (atria) where the wall between the right and left atria does not close completely. Many children with small ASDs have no symptoms at all. Many larger ASDs can now be closed with a catheter and do not require opening a child’s chest for surgery. PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosis) is when the baby is in the birth mother’s womb, there is a blood vessel that is open in all infants which allows blood to bypass the baby’s lungs. At birth this vessel is supposed to close. When it does not, a child then has a PDA, which allows extra blood to pass to the lungs. Children with PDAs often have a heart murmur and shortness of breath.
  • TOF (Tetralogy of Fallot) This more serious heart issue has four defects, including a ventricular septal defect, a narrowing of blood out of the right ventricle to the lungs, an aorta that is shifted to the right, and enlargement of the right ventricle since it must work harder. TOF children normally have lower oxygen levels and may have spells where they turn blue from crying or feeding. Surgery should be done as young as possible.
  • SV (Single Ventricle) Normal hearts have two ventricles, but some children are born with only one, or the second one might be poorly developed. Babies with single ventricle often appear quite blue. These children will most likely require two to three surgeries done in stages. With surgery their outlook is very promising.

TREATMENT

Some heart defects do not require treatment.
If treatment is necessary, physicians can choose from a variety of therapies—including medicines, therapeutic catheterization and surgery.

*Medical information courtesy of LoveWithoutBoundaries.com.

CEREBRAL PALSY

MEDICAL DESCRIPTION

Cerebral Palsy (CP) refers to a number of neurological disorders that causes difficulty with movement, muscle control and/or balance. The child’s muscles may be too stiff (high tone), too floppy (low tone) or both in different areas (trunk floppy, but limbs tight). Both arms and legs may be affected, or just the legs, or the arm and leg on one side of the body.

  • CP is caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls the muscles. The damage can happen before the baby is born, during birth, or right after birth (especially if the baby is born too soon). It is not progressive and does not get worse over time. It is not contagious.
  • Most children with CP have normal intelligence. Some may have difficulty with speaking or eating because the muscles in their mouths are also affected, but they can still understand many things.
  • These children may be at a slightly higher risk for seizures, which can usually be controlled with medication. If the child has a seizure, see the doctor!

TREATMENT

  • Brain damage cannot be cured, but the child’s ability to take care of himself/ herself can be improved.
  • Early intervention, occupational therapy, physical therapy, braces, and other treatments can help the child be stronger and more independent.
  • Talk normally to the child and encourage them to do as much as they can for themself. These children are usually bright and eager.
  • Help a child with poor balance to sit securely by using chairs with arms, pillows, rolled up blankets, etc.
  • A variety of supports and devices are available to help a child attend school, play sports and have an active and normal life.

*Medical information courtesy of LoveWithoutBoundaries.com

CLEFT LIP/PALATE

MEDICAL DESCRIPTION

  • Cleft lip or palate is not caused by something the mother or father did or did not do. In the normal course of development, structures simply do not close.
  • Children with cleft lip/palate may have difficulty speaking clearly or may sound as if they are speaking through the nose.
  • Children with cleft lip/palate may have difficulty eating. Food may come through the nose.
  • Children with cleft lip/palate may have frequent middle ear infections and may tend to have dental cavities.

TREATMENT

  • Cleft lip/palate may be surgically corrected.
  • Middle ear infections should be treated by a physician.
  • Speech therapy may help the child to speak more clearly.
  • Good brushing of the teeth is very important.

SPEECH

  • Reward a child for trying to speak.
  • Look directly at the child when you speak so he may see how your lips and tongue move to produce sounds. Make sounds clear and precise. Practice simple words together.
  • Play copycat games. For example, have the child imitate or copy what you say.
  • Blow bubbles, whistles or horns. Hold a tissue and try to make it move by blowing.

FEEDING/SWALLOWING

  • The child should be in an upright position.
  • If food comes out of the nose, the child should be seated upright, chin tucked toward chest, shoulders pulled forward.
  • The child should be fed thick foods (such as thicker congee) that is chilled or room temperature.
  • A child should use a cup with a side cut out. The head should not tilt back to take sips.
  • A specially designed bottle may be needed. If a special bottle is not available, use a squeezable bottle with an orthodontic nipple and cut a larger “X” hole.

QUESTIONS?

Inquiry coordinators are available at 1-800-214-6719, or by email at info@allgodschildren.org.

*Medical information courtesy of LoveWithoutBoundaries.com

DEFORMED AND MISSING LIMBS

MEDICAL DESCRIPTION

As a baby develops inside the uterus, she is contained within the amniotic sac. This sac is made up of strong fibers that are usually hard to break. Sometimes however, this sac will tear open, and the sticky strands can wrap around parts of the developing baby. When this happens, amniotic banding can occur.

  • The most common effect of amniotic banding is seen when the fibers wrap around the arms, legs, fingers or toes. The fibers cause a deep groove which looks like the baby has a tight rubber band on them. If the banding during development is severe, it may even cause the complete amputation of the limb.
  • Amniotic Band Syndrome is a common birth defect. Children with amniotic banding can have conditions such as missing limbs, fused fingers and toes, hemangiomas, club feet and cleft palate.
  • This is a randomly occurring defect; it is not genetic. It is not inherited from the parents nor passed down to future children.
  • Sometimes tight banding can impair circulation, causing areas below the band to be inflamed or swollen.
  • There is no effect on intellect. Children with ABS are normal in every other way.

TREATMENT

  • If a child has constriction bands on his/her body or extremities, please consult a physician. Impaired circulation can often be improved with surgery to release the bands. In rare cases, amputation of a digit/limb may be the only option.

DOWN SYNDROME

MEDICAL DESCRIPTION

Down Syndrome is a common genetic condition. Children with Down Syndrome have a characteristic appearance, but it can only be diagnosed by a doctor and confirmed by genetic testing. It causes children to grow, develop and learn more slowly than other children.

  • Most children with the condition have low muscle tone and strength (“floppy” muscles and loose joints). It takes them longer to learn to walk, run, etc., but almost all children with Down Syndrome do learn to do these things.
  • The muscle problems can affect their mouths, too, so they are often slow to talk and hard to understand. They usually understand better than they can talk.
  • Because babies with Down Syndrome have poor muscle tone and a protruding tongue, feeding babies with Down Syndrome usually takes longer.
  • Children with Down Syndrome are at higher risk for medical problems like ear infections, respiratory infections, hearing loss, vision problems, digestive problems and heart disease.

TREATMENT

  • These children CAN learn!
  • Break tasks into small simple steps and give lots of practice. Have patience!
  • Encourage the child to do physical activities, take care of him/herself and play with others.
  • When the child is learning to walk, give him something to push or kneel down on and hold his hands straight out. DON’T help him walk by holding his hands/arms over his head — this can dislocate his shoulders if he falls.
  • Include the child in group activities, songs, etc. She can learn a lot by watching other children.
  • It is important for these children to be followed closely by a physician so medical problems can be treated as they arise.
  • Although Down Syndrome can not be “fixed,” scientists have identified the genes that cause the characteristics of Down Syndrome. Researchers feel strongly it may be possible to improve, correct or prevent many of the problems associated with Down Syndrome in the future.

PROGNOSIS

  • These children can be helped to become independent and happy!
  • They learn, play, go to school, do sports, etc.
  • With loving support, children with Downs can grow up to be productive members of society.

* Medical information courtesy of LoveWithoutBoundaries.com

SPINA BIFIDA

MEDICAL DESCRIPTION

  • Spina bifida is a very common birth defect. Many cases of spina bifida may be prevented by the consumption of vitamins containing folic acid before and during pregnancy. A child born with spina bifida has an opening in the spine as a result of the spinal column not closing completely during the first month of pregnancy.

 THREE TYPES OF SPINA BIFIDA

  • Occulta, the mildest form, involves an opening into the vertebrae without a protrusion of the spinal cord or meninges. Many people do not know they have this. There may be a large mole, a patch of hair, or a deep dimple on the skin along the spine.
  • In the Meningocele type, the spinal cord has developed normally, but when the child is born there is a sac protruding from a hole in the vertebrae and out of the back. It is important to have surgery early as the sac may break and infection and nerve damage may occur. Often this form of spina bifida does not present any problems once the back is closed.
  • In Myelomeningocele (Meningomyelocele), the most common form and the most serious, the protruding sac contains tissue, spinal fluid, nerves and part of the spinal cord. The spinal cord is damaged or not properly developed. There is always some degree of paralysis and loss of sensation below the damaged vertebrae. The amount of disability depends on where the spina bifida is and the amount of nerve damage involved. Many children have problems with bowel and bladder control. They may need a walker or wheelchair, depending on the level of paralysis.
  • Most children born with spina bifida can live normal lives. Some children with spina bifida have problems such as curvatures in the back, hip dislocations, ankle and foot deformities and contracted muscles. Some children may have problem with bowel and bladder control. Some children may break their bones easily since their bones may be weaker than normal.
  • Most children with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus have normal intelligence.

TREATMENT

  • A child with this condition should be seen immediately by a doctor.
  • It is important to prevent infection and to protect the spinal cord and nerves that are exposed outside of the body.
  • Babies born with a meningocele or a myelomeningocele need surgery to close the defect. Early surgery is important to prevent a loss of function due to damaged nerves.
  • Placement of a shunt to drain fluid off the brain may be required for those children with the more severe form of myelomeningocele who have hydrocephalus.
  • Not all babies will require surgical repair of spina bifida.
  • Other treatment involves physical therapy to prevent or treat deformities and assist function. Positioning aids in chairs and bed, such as pillows, cushions and specially made equipment, will help the child lie, sit or stand. Braces or splints are used to prevent deformity, promote support and protection from damage.
  • Special attention needs to be given to skin care as bed sores and/or infection may occur due to the child’s lack of sensation. Turning the child in bed and repositioning them when sitting every two hours will prevent bed sores caused by pressure. If reddened or white areas appear on the skin, they may be massaged to bring circulation back to the area. The skin should be kept clean and dry.
  • Encourage children to assist in their care to promote independence.

*Medical information courtesy of LoveWithoutBoundaries.com.

“Everyone at AGCI was extremely helpful and walked us through every step of the way. We had a lot of questions and all of our questions were answered as the process went along. We knew exactly what was expected in the process due to the extremely organized and well managed AGCI staff. Even when we traveled to China, I was amazed at how smooth everything went. Our guide was extremely helpful and was able to take us exactly where we needed to go and let us know what we would need when we got there. Since we picked Joshua off the waiting child list our adoption was completed within 9 months. I was very pleased it went that quickly.

Since Joshua had a medical condition called spina bifida, this added a new dimension to the adoption. We had medical questions and concerns. We were able to access his medical history through AGCI and have a doctor review it before we committed fully to the adoption. All medical facts were disclosed in the paperwork we received and there were no surprises as far as health goes. When we received Joshua, it was like he had always been ours from birth even though he was 3 ½ years old when we adopted him. He has adjusted well to our family and is a treasure to us all! We highly recommend adoption and adopting through AGCI especially!”

— Kelley Family

ADDITIONAL SPECIAL NEEDS

THALASSEMIA

MEDICAL DESCRIPTION

  • Thalassemia is a condition inherited from a child’s birth parents. Thalassemia is a blood disorder which causes mild to severe anemia (a condition where a person has low red blood cells and a low amount of the protein which helps get oxygen to the body). A blood test can determine whether a person has thalassemia.
  • Children with thalassemia are not contagious. They cannot spread this condition to another child. Most children with thalassemia appear healthy at birth, but during the first year or two of life they may become pale, list-less and fussy and have a poor appetite. They grow slowly and often develop jaundice (yellowing of the skin).  See a doctor immediately if any of these symptoms are present.

TREATMENT

  • Minor forms of thalassemia often require no treatment.  Many children have no other health problems except minor anemia.
  • Major forms usually require blood transfu-sions and antibiotics.  Typically the transfusions are every three to four weeks or according to a doctor’s orders.
  • People with thalassemia who get frequent transfusions will have iron build up in their bodies.  They will need to take a daily drug to get rid of this iron to prevent damage to their heart, liver and other organs.

*Medical information courtesy of LoveWithoutBoundaries.com.

HIV / AIDS

MEDICAL DESCRIPTION

  • The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a slowly replicating retrovirus that attacks certain cells in the immune system, the body’s defense system against infections and diseases. HIV causes the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a progressive disease of the immune system that allows infections and cancers to thrive. Your child can develop AIDS if enough of your immune system is damaged by HIV. Because the immune system is so weak, a person with AIDS can easily develop infections or illnesses that normally do not make the average person sick. However, these illnesses can lead to death in someone with AIDS.
  • HIV-infected people often have no symptoms early in the disease progression. Most do not realize they have HIV, yet the virus is present, actively multiplying, and destroying the immune system.

TREATMENT

  • There is no cure for HIV or AIDS. However, there are medications that can help control the virus, strengthen your child’s immune system, and help them better fight infections and other illnesses. These medications are helping people with HIV live longer, healthier lives.

*Medical information courtesy of Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania.

HEARING IMPAIRMENT

MEDICAL DESCRIPTION

  • Hearing loss is often genetic.  It may also be caused by the mother having an infection during pregnancy or the child having an illness with a very high fever. Frequent ear infections can also result in hearing loss. There is a range of hearing loss from mild hearing loss to total deafness. Most children with hearing loss have normal intelligence and can learn many things. Their learning of language will be delayed because they can’t hear people talking. Children with hearing loss live normal, healthy lives.  Deaf adults do many differ-ent jobs.

TREATMENT

  • Most hearing loss cannot be improved or “cured” directly. Children with hearing loss can sometimes benefit from hearing aids or a surgical treatment called cochlear implants. Children who are deaf may communicate using sign language. Children with hearing loss learn using their other senses, especially their vision. Use pictures and gestures to help the child understand and communicate. Show them what you want them to do and allow them to watch other children. Get the child’s attention before speaking to him or her. Speak slowly and clearly. There is no need to shout.

*Medical information courtesy of LoveWithoutBoundaries.com.

VISION IMPAIRMENT

MEDICAL DESCRIPTION

  • Blindness may occur before birth as a result of the eye structures not developing properly in the womb, or immediately after birth as an result of infection, or later in life as a result of diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, uncorrected crossed eyes or ptosis, eye injuries or infections. There is a range of vision loss from mild vision loss to total blindness.

TREATMENT

  • Newborns may pick up an infection during birth and show signs of eye discharge. They should be seen by a doctor and treated with antibiotic ointment, which will prevent blindness. If a child has an eye discharge and possible infection, care must be taken not to spread the infection to the child’s other eye or to other children. Use of one corner of a washcloth to bathe one eye and the other corner to wash the other eye may prevent spread of infection. Washcloths should not be shared with other children. Early treatment with antibiotics for eye infections will help prevent blindness from occurring. If an infant is unable to see due to drooping or crossed eyes, that child may lose the ability to see even though the eye structure is not damaged as a result of the brain not receiving information from the eye during the first years of life. Early diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma, crossed eyes, drooping eyelids and cataracts that obstruct sight will prevent blindness in these children.

*Medical information courtesy of LoveWithoutBoundaries.com.

ALBINISM

MEDICAL DESCRIPTION

  • Albinism is an inherited condition that is present from birth and has a lack of pigment or melanin production in the skin, hair, and eyes. There are several types of albinism and they vary as to how the pigment is affected in the eyes, skin, and hair. You may see other names of albinism including “oculocutaneous albinism” or “OCA,” which affects the eyes, skin, and hair, or “ocular albinism” or “OA,” which primarily affects only the eyes. Vision is the other most common challenge that persons with albinism encounter. Almost all persons with albinism have some form of vision impairment, which can range from mild to legally blind.2 The vision problems typically include an extreme sensitivity to light (photophobia), involuntary eye movement (nystagmus), and sometimes a muscle imbalance between the two eyes (strabismus).

TREATMENT

  • There is genetic testing to confirm the type of albinism but most countries do not have the resources to fully assess and send the correct testing for the different types of albinism so the exact type of albinism will not likely be available prior to adoption.The last consideration is the social and emotional support of the child. Children with albinism as a group have normal IQ’s and can lead full lives but historically, persons with albinism have been seen as “different” and so there exists support groups for both parents and children. NOAH (National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation) provides local and national support by connecting families and promoting education and research. Educating friends, families, and communities about albinism helps with the emotional and social development of raising a child with albinism.

*Medical information courtesy of University of Minnesota’s Adoption Medical Clinic.

CLUBFOOT

MEDICAL DESCRIPTION

  • Club foot is a condition that causes one foot (unilateral) or both feet (bilateral) to be twisted inward and often pointing downward. The club foot does not form properly when the baby is growing in the womb. The affected foot is often smaller and the leg thinner than normal, which may not be as obvious if both feet are affected. Children with club foot have normal intelligence and can lead active and normal lives.

TREATMENT

  • After treatment children can have healthy and pain-free feet and be able to wear regular shoes.  They can walk, run, jump and play sports like other children. A child born with a club foot should be seen by a doctor. There are several options for treatment. One method of treatment involves a series of manipulations of the foot, which is held in place with a full leg plaster cast.  This does not hurt the child.  Each cast is left on for four to seven days as the muscles and ligaments relax and the bones grow into the corrected position. The doctor must be specially trained in this method.
  • Surgery is another method used to treat club foot. The method used is best determined by the doctor. After surgery or casts, the doctor may have the child may wear an adjustable brace to which a special shoe is attached. This brace usually doesn’t interfere with learning to walk. Following treatment children can wear normal shoes and enjoy their beautiful, straight and pain-free feet.

*Medical information courtesy of LoveWithoutBoundaries.com.

HYDROCEPHALY

MEDICAL DESCRIPTION

  • Hydrocephalus occurs when the normal fluid in the brain cannot drain away into the bloodstream because the pathways are blocked.  The fluid is still being made by the brain; so the build-up of fluid causes pressure to rise inside the brain, which can lead to damage. Hydrocephalus may occur in infancy or in older children and can be caused by a brain bleed (which may be the result of a prema-ture birth), meningitis, cysts or brain tumors or other rare causes.

TREATMENT

  • Medical treatment is always necessary. If an infant or child has any of the symptoms listed, they need to be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. Treatment usually includes surgery.  The doctor will make a new pathway to drain off the excess fluid. Surgery normally involves placing a special tube called a shunt that redirects the extra fluid from the brain into other body cavities, such as the abdomen. Caregivers should be aware of all the signs and symptoms of increased pressure inside the brain to monitor a child post-surgery.  Any child with a shunt should be watched closely for infection.

*Medical information courtesy of LoveWithoutBoundaries.com.

EPILEPSY

MEDICAL DESCRIPTION

  • When a child has shown a tendency to have seizures, it is called epilepsy. A doctor may diagnose epilepsy once a child has had 2 or more seizures within a 1 year period. Epilepsy is not a mental illness. It does not mean that the person is delayed or handicapped or will have learning problems. A seizure is a temporary “electrical storm” that occurs on the surface of the brain. Seizures start quickly and most often stop on their own within one to three minutes.

TREATMENT

  • When epilepsy is diagnosed, medicine (called anti-seizure or antiepileptic medicine) are often prescribed. This medicine helps control the seizures. The doctor will choose a medicine based on the child’s age, weight, seizure type, and physical condition. The goal of treatment is the best quality of life, no seizures, and no side effects from the medicine. Sometimes the medicine will need to be changed if there are side effects that are too much to handle or if it doesn’t control the seizures.

*Medical information courtesy of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

AUTISM

MEDICAL DESCRIPTION

  • Autism is a developmental condition of the brain that affects language development, social interaction and behavior. This condition causes various autism spectrum disorders (ASD) that range from mild to severe. Although, the cause of autism is not known, scientists believe that it is caused by a combination of genetic factors (something you are born with) and the environment. What is certain is that parents are not to blame! Vaccines have also been ruled out as a cause.

TREATMENT

  • there is no known cure for autism, evidence shows that early intervention is very successful in improving communication abilities and life skills in children with ASD. Speech-language therapy and occupational therapy can be very helpful. Other available treatments include behavioral approaches, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA) and developmental interventions. Medicine is sometimes used to treat ASD symptoms. No single treatment is best for all children. Treatment should be tailored to meet the child’s individual needs. The ultimate goal of treatment is to help the child achieve independence and to improve the child’s quality of life.

*Medical information courtesy of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER

MEDICAL DESCRIPTION

  • Attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder. It is characterized by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or impulsivity and hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.

TREATMENT

  • Treatment for children with ADHD includes parental support and education in behavioral training, appropriate school placement and medication (typically psychostimulants). Treatment may include:

    Pharmacological Treatment

    Psychostimulants (also known as stimulants) are the most commonly used ADHD medicines. Although these drugs are called stimulants, they actually have a calming effect in people with ADHD.

    Psychosocial Treatments

    Parenting children with ADHD may be difficult and can present challenges that create stress within the family. Classes in behavior management skills designed to address the special challenges associated with parenting a child with ADHD can help to both improve the child’s functioning at home as well as help reduce stress for all family members.

*Medical information courtesy of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

ANAL ATRESIA

MEDICAL DESCRIPTION

  • Congenital absence of an opening at the bottom end of the intestinal tract. Also called imperforate anus. Occurs in about 1 in 5,000 births. It is corrected by surgery. Atresia refers here to the absence of a normal opening. With anal atresia, any of the following can occur: the anal passage may be narrow or not in the normal location, a membrane may be present over the anal opening, the rectum (the end of the colon) may not connect to the anus (the opening where stool exits the body), the rectum may connect to part of the urinary tract or the reproductive system though a passage called a fistula, and an anal opening is not present.

TREATMENT

  • Most children with anal atresia require surgery. After surgery children will need to receive anal dilatations.  This is done to enlarge the opening gradually. Some children will become constipated and require a high fiber diet and the use of laxatives prior to potty training. Children with anal atresia can usually be successfully toilet trained.  Many children gain bowel control more slowly. Depending on the type of malformation and the surgical repair, some children may not have good bowel control. Some specialized hospitals offer bowel management classes to help a child be in control.

*Medical information courtesy of LoveWithoutBoundaries.com.

FETAL ALCOHOL SPECTRUM DISORDERS

MEDICAL DESCRIPTION

  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects may include physical, mental, behavioral, and/or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications. The following neurodevelopmental characteristics are commonly associated with FASD. No one or two is necessarily diagnostically significant; many overlap characteristics of other diagnoses, e.g., ADD/ADHD, learning disabilities, and others. Typical primary characteristics in children, adolescents, and adults include:
    • Memory problems
    • Difficulty storing and retrieving information
    • Inconsistent performance (“on” and “off”) days
    • Impulsivity, distractibility, disorganization
    • Ability to repeat instructions, but inability to put them into action (“talk the talk but don’t walk the walk”)
    • Difficulty with abstractions, such as math, money management, time concepts
    • Cognitive processing deficits (may think more slowly)
    • Slow auditory pace (may only understand every third word of normally paced conversation)
    • Developmental lags (may act younger than chronological age)
    • Inability to predict outcomes or understand consequences

    Secondary Characteristics

    In the absence of identification, people with FASD often experience chronic frustration. Over time, patterns of defensive behaviors commonly develop. These characteristics are believed to be preventable and reversible with appropriate supports.

    • Fatigue, tantrums
    • Irritability, frustration, anger, aggression
    • Fear, anxiety, avoidance, withdrawal
    • Shut down, lying, running away

    TREATMENT

    Treatment for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders focuses on early intervention, physical and emotional therapy, and special education. The FDA has designated specific drugs for treating the symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol in babies. However, there is no treatment for lifelong birth defects and intellectual disability. Babies and children with alcohol-related damage often need developmental follow-up and, possibly, long-term treatment and care.

    *Medical information courtesy of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and FASCETS.org.

CONTACT US TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SPECIFIC SPECIAL NEEDS!