Fetal alcohol syndrome: What to look for

1. Poor bonding, failure to thrive, interrupted sleep patterns. Difficulty feeding, withdrawal.

2. Possible physical and emotional issues, abuses and neglect.

3. Early indicators of inconsistent memory, poor sequencing, distractibility, hyperactivity.

4. Developmental delay (may be mild or masked by some skills): delayed walking, speech and language, toilet training. Vision and hearing problems may not be obvious; not following a series of directions, or randomly doing so. Individuals may have tantrums, etc.

5. Early school failure: attention deficit disorder-hyperactive. Majority are “gray area children,” unidentified, ineligible for services. May be easily influenced, unable to understand or predict consequences of behavior, although they present the illusion of competency.

6. Function at levels lower than indicated by testing (performance, verbal). Individuals appear to be able to work at levels that are actually beyond their abilities.

7. Difficulty with abstractions: math scores typically lowest, communication nuances lost. Inability to “link” cognitively.

8. Not competitive by Grade 4 academically.

9. Socially isolated; intrusive, inappropriate, few friends. Poor comprehension of social rules and expectations.

10. Early school refusal, problems with family.

11. Early first use of alcohol-drugs, other behavior problems; shoplifting, arson, aggressiveness, lying, defiance of authority, temper tantrums, destructiveness.

12. Sexual difficulties, victimization-acting out, easily exploited. Experimentation, other inappropriate behavior. Discrepancy between physical maturity and emotional immaturity may lead to exploration with younger children.

13. Alcoholism-chemical dependency; early first use, rapid deterioration.

14. Pregnancy: latter births of former teen parents at greatest risk for giving birth to infants with FAS. AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases pose a major risk.

15. Involvement with the legal system; truancy, shoplifting, arson, runaways, prostitution — both male and female.

16. High rates of depression, suicide, incarceration.

17. Often have difficulty managing money, time. Forget appointments, overspend.

18. May get jobs, but unable to keep them.

19. Unstable relationships with significant others, abuses, abandonment.

Source: The Montana Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/Effects Program


FAS Community Resource Center