The physical abnormalities of children with FASD vary from child to child depending on the amount of alcohol consumed at which stage in fetal development. These abnormalities can range from slight to severe with various dysfunctions and physical, mental, behavioral, and learning disabilities. They may have hearing abnormalities which can cause communication problems sometimes requiring a hearing aid to counteract hearing loss. Children with FASD suffer from frequent ear infections and have a high rate of hearing loss specifically eighth nerve deafness which is due to lesions of the cochlea and the auditory division of the eighth cranial nerve. Understanding that auditory distractions do affect focus and the child’s learning process allows the teacher to make specific classroom accommodations.
Children with FASD also may have malformed major organs to include the heart, kidneys, ears and eyes. These vision problems can include an eye that turns in or a lazy eye. Some vision problems can be corrected with glasses and some can’t so some children may need books with larger print for example. They may also be born with short palpebral fissures or smaller eye openings. Their eyes may also be sensitive to bright lights which can prove to be a distraction. A child’s curriculum may need to be centered around his or her learning ability and his or her ability to see.
Immune system problems or abnormalities can cause the child to be sick often and with missing school comes a disruption in their learning process most often requiring repetitive instruction. FASD is more than just brain damage prenatal alcohol exposure has damaged not only the brain but the digestive tract as well. Children often show serious problems with digestion including gastric reflux, stomach pains, abdominal bloating after meals, diarrhea, and steatorrhea, which is fatty floating stools due to poor absorption of fat from food. Vitamin deficiency due to poor absorption of nutrients may require vitamin supplementation. These children may have problems with sucking, chewing, and swallowing so it’s important to make their food easily digestible. Blood or skin tests may need to be given to identify food allergies and diets may need to be changed accordingly based upon the results. Digestive health and the immune system are linked since 70% of the body’s immune system dwells in the digestive tract so maintaining digestive health is important to the body’s overall health.