As a Homeschool Mom and a FASD Parent Advocate, Here is What I Want You to Know About FASD:
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a lifelong disability that affects the brain and body of those individuals who were prenatally exposed to alcohol.
- FASD IS THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES IN THE WESTERN WORLD. Those who have an FASD have a lower DEVELOPMENTAL AGE versus their CHRONOLOGICAL AGE.
- Primary characteristics of FASD include: poor working memory, executive functioning deficits, dysmaturity, impulsivity, distractibility, slower processing, inconsistent memory, difficulty with cause and effect, unable to make associations or abstract thinking.
- A recent 2018 study, published in JAMA, by Phillip May, Ph.D. of UNC-Chapel Hill found that 1 in 20 first graders have an FASD.
- NO amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy. Out of all of the drugs/substances that can be exposed to an unborn child, alcohol causes the MOST damage.
- Approximately 80%of children / teens in the US Foster Care System are impacted by an FASD.
- FASD is a spectrum disorder, each person with an FASD can have different symptoms. There are 5 diagnoses that fall under the “FASD Spectrum Umbrella”: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (pFAS), Alcohol Related Birth Defect (ARBD), Neurobehavioral Disorder Associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (ND-PAE) and Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND). FASD results in cognitive, behavioral, health, adaptive functioning and learning challenges. There are over 400 comorbid medical and mental health diagnoses that can accompany having and FASD.
- FASD is a BRAIN BASED disability with lifelong symptoms. It cannot be cured. A child or teen with an FASD is not “misbehaving” or “being disobedient”….his or her brain cannot process what is being asked of him/her. It’s not that they WON’T do something, they CAN”T do something.
- FASD is not limited to one population or demographic, it can happen to any unborn child exposed to ANY amount of alcohol during pregnancy.
- FASD is the most misdiagnosed, undiagnosed and underdiagnosed of all developmental disabilities.
What Have I Learned as a Homeschool Mom of a Son with an FASD?
- We MUST meet our children where they’re at so that they can explore the gifts in them. Learn their interests, support their interests and nurture their growth.
- As a result of the brain damage from the prenatal alcohol exposure, working memory can be poor. One day, your child may remember something….the next day, they may not be able to retrieve or recall that information. When that happens, shift gears and focus on
what your child CAN do that day!
- See your child the same way the Lord sees your child….as a gift, a blessing and YOUR teacher! I can honestly say that our son’s homeschool journey, especially the past few years taught ME numerous life lessons and strengthened my FAITH in so many ways!
- Support your child. Learn how you can accommodate and support his or her needs! Meet your child where he or she is at….
- Once we discover our children’s gifts, we can nurture and support them so they can GROW and THRIVE.
- When you see distractibility, learn the gifts that your child can hyper focus on and use those subjects / skills to help in interest-led learning.
- On the days that you think you can’t do this (and I’ve had MANY of those!), remember that the Lord trusted YOU to teach your child. Take a Rest and Renewal Day. Tomorrow is a New Day.
Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit fasdhope.com for more information or resources about FASD. You can also find our podcast “FASD Hope” where you find your podcasts.
Natalie Vecchione is an FASD parent advocate, homeschooler, podcaster, but MOST importantly… a wife and mom!
Natalie and her husband, John, adopted both our son and daughter via domestic adoption. They began homeschooling 7 years ago, when they noticed how many accommodations their son needed (who was later diagnosed with an FASD). Their son finally received an FASD diagnosis when he was 15, when he was also hospitalized for Bipolar Disorder…and it was one of the darkest times of her life as a mom.
In those dark times, the Lord used her brokenness and filled her with the Holy Spirit to use her journey to become a parent advocate and help other families not to feel as alone as she had on her journey. Natalie began advocating for FASD by being a peer support mentor, co-facilitating a parent support group and she was selected to participate in the 2019 North Carolina Exceptional Parent Leadership Conference. She certified in Mental Health First Aid and she has also been a Board- Certified, Music Therapist for 25 years. Recently, Natalie volunteered as a board member and social media coordinator for several North Carolina nonprofits. In April 2020, Natalie began her new adventure in the world of podcasting through producing and hosting podcasts about FASD…. and she became a “Mom on a Mission with a Microphone”. In October 2020, Natalie and her husband co-founded their own podcast, website and ministry – “FASD Hope”. The mission of FASD Hope is to provide awareness, information and inspiration to people whose lives have been touched by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Natalie & her family lives in the farm country of North Carolina (US) with their 6 year-old daughter (who began homeschooling last year) and almost 19 year-old son (who graduated from homeschooling and he is now proudly working part time as a carpentry apprentice and studying online in computer coding / part time). Natalie is thrilled to begin this new adventure of FASD Hope and the “FASD Hope” podcast series and share awareness, information and inspiration about FASD and serving the Lord through their mission / ministry.
Instagram – @fasdhopeFacebook – @fasdhope1Pinterest- @fasdhope1Clubhouse – @natalievecc