Strategies for Assisting the Substance-Exposed Child

Article excerpt

Strategies for Assisting the Substance-Exposed Child Prenatal Exposure to Drugs/Alcohol (2nd ed.) Jeanette M. Soby; Charles C. Thomas, Publisher; Springfield, Ill., (800) 258-8980; 2006; ISBN: 0-398-07634-0; hardcover; 172 pages; $44.95

by Brion P. McAlarney

This is an important book for anyone, professional or parent, working with a child who suffers from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) or fetal drug exposure (FDE). The treatise provides a solid foundation for professionals.

The text sets out to provide professionals, particularly in the education field, with the tools to develop individualized plans for children affected by prenatal exposure to alcohol and/or cocaine as well as other polydrug effects. It tries to synthesize knowledge from several disciplines, including cognitive psychology, neuroscience, education, biology, sociology, and speech, and considers both prenatal and postnatal environments.

The book is divided into three sections. The first presents typical characteristics of children prenatally exposed to alcohol, cocaine, or other drugs. The second section presents the cognitive process of learning, offering a point of comparison with normal children. The third section presents educational strategies for helping children who have been exposed prenatally.

Soby relies on medical and education research, as well as her own experience working in communities, with families, and in the educational and judicial systems. She also shares information from interviews with individuals in each of these systems.

She takes us through the history and prevalence of FASD, an umbrella term used to describe the range of effects that can result when a mother consumes alcohol during pregnancy. Soby takes the time to explain the physiologic processes involved with FASD in a straightforward manner. She describes the efforts needed to improve prevention and identification of FASD, both in the medical and educational realms.

Multiple challenges

The text underscores a litany of medical, social, and psychological problems that can emerge with children who have FASD. Soby describes these deficits in intricate detail. Children with FASD often do not qualify for special education services because they do not have a medical diagnosis, yet they face the same issues as do youths receiving special education, the text states. …