We're in the midst of adopting a child from overseas. He has Ds so it's hard to tell from the photo, but we are concerned he may also have fetal alcohol syndrome. The orphanage gave him a very good report (he's 7), but we're wondering. Does anyone have experience with FAS? Thanks.
September 7, 2012 at 9:24 AMCongrats on the adoption!! I don't have FAS experience but here's a bump! :)
by DDDayshSeptember 7, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Not my own child, but I was raised with two brothers who were adopted with FAS.
They were (supposedly full) bio-sibs and both have FAS with associated mental retardation, but not downs syndrome. I wish I could tell you what to expect, but the boys were so very different. The older one is 30 and the younger one is turning 29 today, and they are still completely different people.
As small children, one of the boys seemed extremely impaired. He needed lots of speech therapy and learned only slowly with much repetition. He was clearly identifiable as mentally disabled just from looking at him or having a short interaction.
My other brother was not. As a small child he was very little for his age, and since he otherwise looked normal and spoke without difficulty, most of his delays were not evident because people merely assumed he was younger than he actually was. Compared to his older brother, he learned very quickly and was only a few years delayed in reading and basic arithmetic. You had to actually observe him with all his daily tasks, know how old he was, and track his progress to really understand the depth of his impairments.
Puberty is when things changed.
By then, the boy who had started out so profoundly impaired had made alot of gains. He was able to learn to read in high school and while he still has a speech impairment, it isn't severe enough to make him hard to understand. He is very methodical and pretty even tempered, so he is quite adept at "self help" tasks. He'll probably never be able to live without some supervision, but is steadily progressing towards more and more independence. Except for a short time when he was on accutane (acne medication) as a teen, he's never had any problems with aggression. He is really doing very well in his life. He's held down several jobs, though he's looking for one at the moment because the bowling alley he ws working at shut down. He attends several churches each week because he loves religion. He's even been able to audit some college classes at a local private university!
Unfortunately, life is not going so well for my brother who was less impaired as a child. When he hit puberty, the chemicals messed him up. He got violent and angry. He is entirely irrational. He is not reliable with self help tasks (like showering) so it's hard to have him be independent. He's stuck in a place where he is aware of exactly how much in life is denied him because of his diabilities, but not in a place where he can really overcome those disabilities to acheive what he wants. He's been diagnosed with several mental illnesses, but they're not really sure which one he actually has and he has developed epilepsy. He's had legal trouble, most recently because he'll call 911 and threaten to hurt people because it gets him attention. He's very beligerent and difficult to be around. He loves my son, and sometimes my son like him but he's also scared of him because he's so irratic and he'll say things that are so blatently inappropriate that he can't be left alone with small children. He's not a BAD person, but his brain is just so damaged that he doesn't really understand all the implications of what he's doing, so he does whatever will "feel good" at the moment.
So... as you can see, you never really know what will happen. But then again, you never really know what your seemingly healthy bio-child will do either. As a sister to my brothers, FAS has shaped my life in ways that are so deep I'll never really know the full impact. Sometimes I hated it, there are still times when I irrationally want to find their biomom and make her look at what she did to her son. There are other times I feel incredibly blessed by getting to love different kinds of people and to get to know my brother who has come so far and overcome so much.
My best advice is that you find a good developmental pediatrician that you trust, and let him/her refer you to other specialists as needed. There is still so little understood about FAS that you're never quite sure what is going on.
by willysmamaSeptember 7, 2012 at 1:07 PM
I have some experience with FAS. My cousin. He is doing okay now but it was a rough go for a while
by dandersenSeptember 7, 2012 at 11:05 PM
i have a "friend" whose 4 year old daughter has FAS, although she would never admit it to anyone she doesnt absolutely have to. luckily for this little girl, she has somehow overcome her mothers horrible treatment (during pregnancy) and her basically lazy attitude towards her problems, and is doing really really good. i know that she sees an OT, ST and PT, but that they are sure she will be able to function normally as an adult.
never underestimate the power of a special kid, they will amaze you every time.
September 17, 2012 at 8:36 AM
Thanks for sharing--it must be so difficult sometimes. You're a good sister! I'm sorry your one brother is having so many problems. I've heard before that puberty can cause a child with FAS to react in unanticipated ways. A lot to think about!
September 17, 2012 at 8:37 AM
That reply above was meant for DDDaysh.
Thanks, everyone, for replying!
I have very little experience with it, but a lot of experience with DS. Why do you think he may have FAS? I have known several families who have adopted children from overseas with DS. Many of them have become malnourished, and have been neglected. I'm wondering if the things you are seeing (worrying about) could simply be the result of improper or inadequate nutrition/care?
HI--I thought he might have it from looking at his photo. His face seemed to show some features, but it was hard to tell. Turns out that his orphanage director says his mother "for sure" did not drink while pregnant. So we're very happy to hear this and are not worrying anymore.