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On the last track, we discussed four secondary disabilities frequently found in FAS clients. These three secondary disabilities included: mental health; frequent troubles with authoritative institutions; alcohol abuse; and inappropriate sexual behavior.
On this track, we will examine FAS in the early stages of life and the most effective familial structure for them. The three stages we will examine in this track include: infancy; toddlers and preschool years; and school-age years. The three types of familial structure during these stages are, respectively: soothing atmospheres; developing communication skills; and clear demands.
3 Early Stages of Life & Familial Structures During these Stages
Satge #1 - Infancy
These FAS infants become overwhelmed by stimuli and respond by crying, fidgeting, squinting, and other indications of agitation. This, I have found, is the most common manifestation of the damage done to the central nervous system and is one of the earliest indications for FAS. Children who become frequently over stimulated have greater risks of secondary disabilities.
Technique: Soothing Atmosphere
I stated to Sherri and Paul, “Although I know it is tempting to surround your infant with sights and sounds in order to enhance development, it is much more useful to provide a calm, modulated environment for infants with FAS. This environment should be predictable and soothing, not overwhelming. In short, an environment that is interactive with Blaise’s own responses, respectful of her needs, and oriented toward helping her immature nervous system develop better regulatory control.”
To better create a soothing atmosphere for Blaise, Sherri and Paul installed dimmer lights and kept the noise level in their home to a minimum. The music Sherri played for her was now soft and sometimes only consisted of Sherri’s voice. Think of your Sherri and Paul. Is the environment in their home too overwhelming for their FAS infant?
Stage #2 - Toddlers and Preschool Years
However, I try to caution parents to listen carefully to the child’s own behaviors for guidelines for interventions and planning. On the other end of the spectrum, some clients with FAS are already out of control as preschoolers. Violent behavior directed toward self or others, fire-setting, marked hyperactivity, and incorrigibility are all signs of extreme FAS.
Technique: Developing Communication Skills
I explained to Neal’s parents, Denise and Robert, that I was trying to demonstrate how to verbalize the appropriate communication for an inappropriate social interaction. I asked Denise and Robert to reiterate to Neal the importance of using words rather than physical expressions to show excitement. This facilitates the expression of the client’s needs to the outside world and prevents the client becoming frustrated.
Another important aspect of developing communication skills with clients like Neal is teaching them how to ask for help. Although self-sufficiency is an obvious enduring goal of childhood, the concept of asking for help when needed is, I feel, and extremely helpful technique for situations across the life span. Part of the equation in learning to ask for help is learning to recognize when a task is too hard to achieve alone. The other part of the equation is knowing that help is available when asked for.
Stage #3 - School-Age Years
The basic cognitive, attention, and memory problems of FAS clients set the stage for behavior problems at home and in the classroom. Basic communication problems and difficulty with self-reflection make verbal communication of needs difficult. The clients become overwhelmed by stimulation and are unable to either respond appropriately or protect themselves from the over stimulation of competing and ambiguous demands.
When they lose control, they are likely to be punished for their unacceptable behavior while the basic problem underlying their lack of compliance is ignored.
Technique: Clear Demands
By structuring Brandon’s environment, he will find it much easier to adapt to increasing demands as long as there is a controlled element to the situation
On this track, we discussed FAS in the early stages of life and the most effective familial structure for them. The three stages we will examine in this track included: infancy; toddlers and preschool years; and school-age years. The three types of familial structure during these stages are, respectively: soothing atmospheres; developing communication skills; and clear demands.
On the next track, we will examine three aspects of adolescents with FAS. These three aspects of adolescents with FAS include: difficulties; independence with structure; and help for parents.
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