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>A Message for the Holt Forum

June 20, 2011

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Hi All!
It has been so long since I signed on to Holt (2008?) that my password doesn’t work. Nor did the password recovery feature work. Nora kindly linked on Holt  here to this blog and it looks like many of you have found the compiled links  to information on prenatal alcohol exposure.

I hope they help. My goal has been to compile everything I wish I had known over the past six years –since we brought our mildly alcohol exposed daughter home from Korea.

Like many of you, we were concerned about alcohol exposure and specifically asked an IAC to help us evaluate her referral with that in mind. While the IAC Dr. said “when there is any amount of exposure you can never be certain,” he saw no red flags in her referral. There were no obvious signs in her photos and no clues in her developmental history.
It wasn’t until Hope was between ages two and three that we began to wonder if maybe she was more than simply a “spirited child.” She in fact has been diagnosed with ARND (alcohol related neurological deficits) with ADHD. Contrary to how it may seem, getting that diagnosis is one of the best things we have ever done; we are now intervening to meet her needs and are parenting her so much more effectively.
Please do not be misled by what you want to hear when a doctor assures you that according to the referral information, your baby is doing so well developmentally that FAS can be ruled out. Of the FASDs (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders), it is only FAS—Fetal Alcohol Syndrome—that may be physically obvious from birth. The only thing that reassurance means is that the child does not have any obvious physical features of FAS. However, children without the physical characteristics can be just as devastatingly impacted neurologically as those who have them. Like in the case of my daughter, the damage can be physically invisible.
Doctors recommend that every child with known PAE be screened for potential FASD because it is so important (for the child’s sake and for your family’s sake) to begin appropriate interventions early. This screening is even more important for children who do not have any obvious physical characteristics because those are the kids most likely to fall through the cracks. When it goes unrecognized and untreated, children with the invisible forms of FASD are more challenged (and challenging) than those who have physical clues that win them an early diagnosis and appropriate interventions.
Hope for the very best outcome for your child who has any amount of PAE (prenatal alcohol exposure); many kids are just fine despite their exposure. But if/when things get challenging, don’t be misled like we were by our original belief that an FASD was not a possibility for our child.
And please, continue to adopt alcohol exposed children! Yes, it is challenging. But it is easier when you educate your self and know how to reach out for help and support if you need it. So step out in faith –at the same time you ask questions and learn how to be the best parent possible for your child with PAE.

–CarrieZ

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