Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Mess of FASD - How do You React to This Situation...?

My Friend Barb wrote a post last night about the ongoing drama with her neighbors daughter who has FASD. I challenge you to read it, feel and acknowledge your gut response to the daughters behavior and the moms response, and then come back and think through some questions below.

STOP! Please don't read the questions until you have done your own thinking....this is relevant because our feelings and our head knowledge might not line up on this one.

I inserted a few photos to help keep you away from them.

The questions:

What was your initial gut response to the chaos that this child created over a bowl of soup?
Was there a hint of compassion for the child whos brain was damaged before she even took her first breath?
What was your response to the mom throwing the 20 year old out?
Any sympathy there for the mom or brother?
Thinking through this one child's behavior due to FASD....how much of the really out of control behaviors in our society might be caused by undiagnosed prenatal exposure to alcohol? Not poverty, drugs, abuse or neglect..what if these horrible things are simply secondary to what happened before birth?
What is our responsibility to the suffering individual with FASD (child or adult) and what can we change culturally to stop the only 100 % preventable birth defect?
Stats for babies damaged by alcohol range from 1:100 to 1:1000 depending on where you look. Either way it's 100% preventable....and there is no way that this young lady 'wants' the life she has. No one chooses serious psychiatric treatment and being taken out of their home as a teen over a normal stable life - dances, friends, learning, sports - YES...locked doors and sedatives - NO WAY.
But there was a choice in her life - her bio mom chose to drink while pregnant and our society has given her that right. Regardless of the rights of her daughter who now has a pretty scary future to look into. Not to wholly blame mom because I don't know her - she may have been FASD herself and unable to make the choice to stop the cycle because of the abuse that she sustained prenatally.
I hate FASD. I hate the judgement and pain that those with it experience in our society. I hate the destruction it does to biological and adoptive families and I weep over the blind eye we still turn toward it. We abhor Shaken Baby Syndrome, but give no more than a sad eye toward the realities of FASD.


Betsy said...

AMEN! We need to be aware of the effects of FASD and run to help those directly affected and spread the word on how incredibly damaging it is.

Thanks for the pics...your children are beautiful!!

Blessed said...

Dorothy, I was speculating with my husband about this very thing a week or so ago, wondering how various cultures and people groups throughout history might have been shaped by FAS, with no one ever thinking about it. (That is what I would write a doctoral dissertation on this week! ; ) For example, what little I know about the uprise of the ruthless Russian mafia makes me wonder if they--and other notoriously vicious and devil-may-care criminals--are products of severe Reactive Attachment Disorder and/or FASD? Which leads to thinking about other groups of people traditionally living on the fringes of acceptable society: street people, prostitutes, drug addicts (those three often go together), etc. How many of them would also be diagnosed as FASD?

Anyway, this is all excellent food for thought., and I am so glad for the ways your and Barb's (and others') blogs have opened my eyes and educated me on the realities of these things.

But in a previous post you said that many time the damage to the baby happens even before the mother knows she is pregnant. Then what can we do to help prevent it except promote chastity, birth control, or outlaw drinking? I would like to hear your ideas for specific action.

Judy said...

Amen, Dorothy!
According to this link, http://www.violenceinterventionprogram.org/news/fetal-alcohol-spectrum-disorders-fasd-the-hidden-disability-conference-january-20-2006.html,

"The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office files 30,000 criminal petitions per year against juvenile criminal offenders. One study found that the percent of juvenile offenders who have FASD is 23%. If this is accurate, then at least 6,900 juveniles processed through the Los Angeles County system each year are affected by FASD."

I also heard, and I can't find the source, that up to 80% of inmates at San Quentin prison (in Ca.) were in the foster care system at some point in their life.
FASD spreads far and wide and is indeed an invisible disability. The problem is that once the crime has been committed, it doesn't matter if you have brain damage or not, our justice system is set up in a way that punishes the guilty. People affected with FASD don't need punishment, they need treatment, understanding and a voice.
God is good. He is working through all of us right now. I know that all of us mothers who have children affected by alcohol will someday through Him, bring change, awareness and understanding to the topic of FASD.