13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.
—Psalm 139:13–16, The Message
Imagine yourself walking into a clothing store. The lights are dim and flickering; the racks are so close together you can barely squeeze through. The floor is sticky. The speakers set every few feet on the low ceiling are all tuned to different radio stations and blasting at high volume. The room is very warm and the air smells stale. A salesperson approaches you and, shouting to be heard, asks if he can help. How do you respond? What if you are not allowed to leave? What if you have to stay, and find a variety of clothing items in the correct color and size? How successful would you be? How would you feel by the end of the day?
This is what a school day feels like for a child with FASD. If you have been an educator for any length of time, you have taught a child affected by prenatal alcohol exposure. This is the child who appears to listen to your instructions and then wanders off to do something different. The one who hits other students for no apparent reason. The one who seems to learn something one day, but completely forgets it the next. This is the child that the other kids avoid. The child who tests your patience to the breaking point every single day.
FASD 101: Some Facts
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is an umbrella term that covers a number of diagnoses: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), Alcohol Related Neurological Defects (ARND) and pFAS (Partial FAS). Although it was previously believed that FAS was the worst of this group, and the other disorders less severe, research has proved this theory false. The differences between these diagnoses are as subtle as measurements of physical features: a diagnosis of full FAS requires certain facial features to be present, as well as a smaller-than-average build. However, very few people with FASD have these features, making FASD truly an invisible disability.