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I am thinking of adopting/caring for a child who might have been exposed to alcohol in the womb. What do I need to know?
It’s important to educate yourself as much as you can about how FASD affects people across the lifespan. Raising a child or young person with additional needs is a big commitment and it’s better to be honest with yourself now if it’s not something for you, for whatever reason that may be. This is a highly personal decision.
For many, raising a child with FASD brings new depth, understanding and love into their lives. People with FASD have wonderful strengths as well as many challenges. With diagnosis and appropriate support, people with FASD can lead positive and productive lives.
FASD cannot always be identified young. Sometimes the full extent of the impact doesn’t become clear until they grow older – perhaps not until secondary school, when social and academic demands become more abstract and the differences with others their age might become more pronounced. Having neurodevelopmental, speech and language and occupational therapy/sensory assessments will help you understand underlying brain-based issues.
There are more than 400 conditions that can co-occur with FASD. Life may well involve a lot of doctors’ appointments and professionals being involved over the long haul. It’s critical that all professionals around the child understand FASD. It’s also important for parents and professionals involved in supporting the young person to know that the latest research shows that for those with trauma and attachment issues, it’s key to use FASD-informed strategies. Traditional therapeutic interventions may not work and could in fact backfire.