Friday, September 05, 2008

A Good Question Worthy of Discussion re: FASD

Question I've often asked myself:

If FASD is a new diagnosis, then why weren't more people affected 50 years ago? Or, if they were affected, then what happened to those kids? Did they have the same challenges as our kids do and just get institutionalized? Did their parents pull them out of school and put them to work? Or did they just get the sense beat into them with a paddle?

Or could it be that there are other things attributing to FASD now -- maybe a combination of all the preservatives we have in food now that combine with it.

I'm sure there are lots of places to go to look up this information, but what do you guys think?

Has FASD been around forever, and if so, what happened to those kids as they grew up?


Susan said...

I think kids with any sort of disability (ADD, Autism, Bipolar, etc) were put into special schools when I was growing up. They were given a manual labor type job if they could handle it, like assembly or putting tags on something or packing stuff into a box. In the little town I grew up in there were "special people" working some jobs at the local factory assembly line. They lived in a group setting. If they weren't able to manage that, they were in the state mental hospital. I don't remember anyone trying to figure out if a child had Down's or another type of genetic issue or if it was something like FASD, etc. They were high functioning mentally retarded or low functioning mentally retarded. I think as some of these kids grew up and parents refused to accept a doctor's low expectations of their child, things began to change. I think many parents became uncomfortable with institutionalizing their children. As institutions were closed and options were fewer for children to live outside the home, other parents had to try to figure out what to do with them. I think so many of the "new diagnosis" have been born of necessity for parents and therapists or teachers trying to work with the special needs of these children. Treatment for a child with Down's is going to look very different from a child with FASD even though there will be some overlap in methods for kids functioning at a similar level.

I think as parents demand it there will be big changes in the near future about things like vaccines and proximity to electrical wires, pesticides in what we eat and so forth. I know in my area many parents are questioning all of the things our kids are exposed to that may be damaging to them or exacerbating existing conditions.

Psycho Mom said...

I think it has always been around, but has been different with the different times. I think it is more prevalent now. I think long ago, when people were more segregated, like on farms and things like that, there was not as much trouble to get into, and doing manual labor and hands on stuff worked well for fasd people. My assumption would be that the numbers were much smaller, due to many factors.

I can easily look back to my own childhood and pick out who I think has it. I can look back to my years working in the schools and countless kids come to my mind who I know have it, although I did not know it at the time.

I thought I had seen something on Faslink about some Dr. who has written a book which talks about the difference in today's alcohol and wine of biblical times?? Supposedly, it is much stronger now? I definitely think our binge drinking obsession must have some affect on the rate of FASD.

Enough rambling, I will stop. Good question. Barb

Heather said...

This isn't nearly 50 years ago, but we are starting to understand that my husband, age 36, has FASD. He was adopted in the early 70's, and had many behavior problems as a boy. His parents just toughed it out, got him into therapy, and kept consistent consequences, without the benefits we have today of support and info. He has become a wonderful adult (my personal opinion ;-), but as we learn about our FASD daughters disability, he has finally understood his own.

In addition to Susan's thoughts, I think that the improvement in communication (both pre- and especially post-internet), has helped people notice trends & patterns that wouldn't have been picked up in the isolated situations that existed previously. Plus, people are more open now - people probably just didn't talk about a woman who was drunk all through the pregnancy, so the connections may not have been made.

J. Allen Crowe said...

It wasn't until 1974 that schools were required to educate all students. Prior to that, students who did not "fit in" were shoved out of schools. As I studied the research on FASD, I started looking into my extended family and realized several of my cousins were FASD. We did not know growing up what made them different. I am in my mid fifties. Of my 47 cousins, eight exhibit the characteristics and behaviors of FASD to this day.

FAScinated said...

There is a link on my blog to "On the Trail of FAS" by a FASD researcher named Peggy Seo Oba. She has found references to what might have been FASD throughout history and it is a very interesting read.

“Moreover, children should not be made in bodies saturated with drunkenness. What is growing in the mother should be compact, well attached, and calm…”
~these are the words of Plato, approximately 400 years before the time of Christ, who continued in his Laws dialogue to caution that couples who are drinking are ...
“likely to beget at such a time offspring who are irregular, untrustworthy, and not at all straight in character or body.”

FASD is nothing new, we just didn't call it FASD until recently.

One of the reasons I believe we are "seeing" FASD more now is the fact that our society is now a very poor fit for someone who has this type of damage to their brain. Someone who might have functioned well 100 years ago working on a farm or as a blacksmith apprentice, doing the same repetetive physical work day after day, would probably not do well working at McDonalds where work is fast paced and requires the ability to multi-task. Trouble is easier to find now (internet, porn channels on TV, etc...) and the routines (remember the noon whistle that told everyone to go home for lunch?!) and black and white social rules of the past have morphed into a unstructured shades-of-gray mess.

And Susan is right. Kids with FASD and other disabilities were not in our classrooms when many of us were growing up. I know women just a few decades older than me who struggled to keep their children with disabilities out of institutions and who fought for the same rights for their children to receive an education as other children had.

And then there's the matter of nutrition and preservatives, etc... which can impact how much damage a fetus might have when a mom drinks alcohol. Improved prenatal care means that some babies survive and live with disabilities that babies in the past would not have survived. And there's the matter of the rise in binge drinking, too....lots of factors might be involved in why FASD seems to be more prevalent now.