According to NOFAS (National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) website:
FASD is known as a “hidden disability” because most individuals affected by FASD are not diagnosed until adolescence, adulthood, if at all. School-aged children with fetal alcohol-related problems are usually only identified when they are referred for a learning disability or an attention deficit disorder. If clinicians can identify FASD early, intervention approaches can minimize the potential impact and prevent secondary disabilities.
In our case, the maiden was identified by the Children’s Aid Society as “suspected FASD” at 4 years of age. She did receive a diagnosis of ADHD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder and Attachment Disorder at 6 years of age. I wonder how different our lives would have been if she had received the FASD diagnosis at six, and received the proper interventions and support, instead of struggling with misdiagnosis for five more years. At eight she received a Learning Disability diagnosis through the school board. However, even after receiving the FASD diagnosis at 11, FASD was not recognized as a disability by our school board, so she did not qualify for any special assistance.
As today’s graphic speaks to, the differences to her peers started to really show in grade four, when others were maturing in many areas, she was staying static or seemingly “younger” in her behaviours. Matters were not helped because the school system did not recognize her disability, so she did not receive the support or supervision she required to be successful. I’ve written about this before – how from grade 5 through to grade 12 she had disrupted school placements – skipped grade 8 (because of social issues), and was taught at home for part of every year of high school due to not being able to cope with the unrealistic expectations placed on her.
Awareness of FASD has increased since I adopted the maiden in 2007 but there still are too many children not being recognized. While it came too late for her, I hope as FASD awareness increases, more children will be diagnosed earlier, receive the support they need, and have better experiences throughout their childhood and into adulthood.
Stay tuned … the tip for Day 11 will be released tomorrow at 9:09 a.m.