Challenged Hope

Grandmother raising Grandchildren with FASD in Hamilton Ontario Canada


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FASD FACT: No Cure

Did you know there is no cure for FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder)? When the fetus brain is damaged by alcohol during pregnancy, it cannot be reversed. Some moms drink while unaware they are pregnant, others drink during pregnancy out of ignorance of the danger, others knowingly drink alcohol during pregnancy due to addiction. Let’s get the message out that no amount of alcohol during pregnancy is safe. FASD is a life sentence. #FASDFACTS. See my memoir: Two Decades Of Diapers. Available at http://www.twodecadesofdiapers.com. Also at Amazon, Kobo, and other fine ebook distributors.

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Appropriate Stages Of Child Development

When my grandchildren were young, I realized they were not developing mentally as most children do, and looked on-line for a list of age appropriate development stages but, for some reason, was hard pressed to find one. But just the other day, I came across this one at http://www.ldonline.org and thought it might be helpful to other caregivers:

 Parents are often the first to notice that “something doesn’t seem right.” If you are aware of the common signs of learning disabilities, you will be able to recognize potential problems early. The following is a checklist of characteristics that may point to a learning disability. Most people will, from time to time, see one or more of these warning signs in their children. This is normal. If, however, you see several of these characteristics over a long period of time, consider the possibility of a learning disability.

Preschool

  • Speaks later than most children
  • Pronunciation problems
  • Slow vocabulary growth, often unable to find the right word
  • Difficulty rhyming words
  • Trouble learning numbers, alphabet, days of the week, colors, shapes
  • Extremely restless and easily distracted
  • Trouble interacting with peers
  • Difficulty following directions or routines
  • Fine motor skills slow to develop

Grades K-4

  • Slow to learn the connection between letters and sounds
  • Confuses basic words (run, eat, want)
  • Makes consistent reading and spelling errors including letter reversals (b/d), inversions (m/w), transpositions (felt/left), and substitutions (house/home)
  • Transposes number sequences and confuses arithmetic signs (+, -, x, /, =)
  • Slow to remember facts
  • Slow to learn new skills, relies heavily on memorization
  • Impulsive, difficulty planning
  • Unstable pencil grip
  • Trouble learning about time
  • Poor coordination, unaware of physical surroundings, prone to accidents

Grades 5-8

  • Reverses letter sequences (soiled/solid, left/felt)
  • Slow to learn prefixes, suffixes, root words, and other spelling strategies
  • Avoids reading aloud
  • Trouble with word problems
  • Difficulty with handwriting
  • Awkward, fist-like, or tight pencil grip
  • Avoids writing assignments
  • Slow or poor recall of facts
  • Difficulty making friends
  • Trouble understanding body language and facial expressions

High School Students and Adults

  • Continues to spell incorrectly, frequently spells the same word differently in a single piece of writing
  • Avoids reading and writing tasks
  • Trouble summarizing
  • Trouble with open-ended questions on tests
  • Weak memory skills
  • Difficulty adjusting to new settings
  • Works slowly
  • Poor grasp of abstract concepts
  • Either pays too little attention to details or focuses on them too much
  • Misreads information

Have your child evaluated

Ask school authorities to provide a comprehensive educational evaluation including assessment tests. Tests for learning disabilities are referred to as assessment tests because they evaluate and measure areas of strengths and weaknesses. A comprehensive evaluation, however, includes a variety of procedures in addition to the assessment tests, such as interviews, direct observation, reviews of your child’s educational and medical history, and conferences with professionals who work with your child. Either you or the school can request this evaluation, but it is given only with your written permission. Since you are one of the best observers of your child’s development, it is important that you be an active participant in the evaluation process. If you don’t understand the test results, ask questions!


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What is a Learning Disability?

For the longest while, I thought a learning disability meant that a child didn’t do well in school. Not until I began browsing the Internet, did I discover it’s a neurological disorder that can affect not only a child’s ability to read, write, spell and do math, but also their powers to reason, recall, and memorize which, obviously, are all linked to education, but can also negatively affect their daily activities.

As a grandparent raising grandchildren with learning disabilities, due to this disorder, I witness the challenges they face each day. A learning disability can’t be cured so the child must learn to live within specific boundaries handed to them through this condition, but with love and support the child can reach his full potential.

For a child with a learning disability, it’s important for them to know their strengths and be aware of their weaknesses. Caregivers can work with the child’s school and experts in mental health to offset the difficulties the child faces each day. As I browsed through the Internet I came across this list of learning disabilities at  http://www.ldonline.org

Common learning disabilities:

  • Dyslexia – a language-based disability in which a person has trouble understanding written words. It may also be referred to as reading disability or reading disorder.
  • Dyscalculia – a mathematical disability in which a person has a difficult time solving arithmetic problems and grasping math concepts.
  • Dysgraphia – a writing disability in which a person finds it hard to form letters or write within a defined space.
  • Auditory and Visual Processing Disorders – sensory disabilities in which a person has difficulty understanding language despite normal hearing and vision.
  • Nonverbal Learning Disabilities– a neurological disorder which originates in the right hemisphere of the brain, causing problems with visual-spatial, intuitive, organizational, evaluative and holistic processing functions

If you believe your child suffers with any one of the above learning disabilities, it’s time to communicate with the staff at your child’s school and contact your family doctor. Help is available.