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The "brutal reality" for children damaged by alcohol

Judith Knox's son when he was younger

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Judith Knox


The adopted son of Judith Knox has "huge problems" with social interaction

A mother laid bare the "brutal reality" of her adoptive son's education after it had been damaged by exposure to alcohol in the womb.

Judith Knox says that her 12-year-old son has a range of behavioral problems resulting from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

It is estimated that 172,000 people could be affected by the disorder in Scotland.

But Ms. Knox said it had taken six years for her son to be properly diagnosed.

FASD is a generic term that describes the adverse physical and emotional conditions that affect people whose mothers drank during pregnancy. A new support service for parents and dependents, called FASD Hub Scotland, has been launched.

According to Ms. Knox, of Fife, who has been waiting for a long time, it would be highly anticipated, she told BBC Scotland that she did not want to name her son nor identify him with the help of recent photos.

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Judith Knox


The son of Mrs. Knox at a young age, when the first signs of her fetal alcohol spectrum disorder appeared

She told BBC Scotland: "It has put a lot of pressure on the family, your parenting is always monitored and it only wants to keep your attention 100%, in 100% of cases.

The 51-year-old woman and her ex-husband adopted their son at the age of seven months and he quickly began to show worrying behavior.

This included biting his fingers until they bleed in the hope of preventing sleep, plastering on the walls to eat and ignoring the range. toys that his family had bought him.


Judith Knox said that despite his son's difficult behavior caused by FASD, he remains very charming and fun

His son was finally diagnosed with FASD at the age of six, after the doctors were initially wrong to think that he was suffering from a deficit hyperactivity disorder. of attention. But his behavior continued to push his family to the extreme.

"It was difficult at the time and it's still difficult," Ms. Knox said.

"Sometimes we cover bruises, this is the brutal reality.

"It has huge problems of social interaction, it is very intense and a lot of kids find it difficult.

"He may also be involved in risky behaviors because of his disability, his lack of impulse control, which can lead to a path of vulnerability."

She added, "People stopped and filmed our son falling apart and trying to protect us.

"If we go out for the day, we have to have a plan B, C, D and E."

Why is it so bad to drink during pregnancy?

The NHS recommends that the safest approach for pregnant women is not to drink alcohol at all to minimize the risk to their baby.

Risks occur when alcohol crosses the placental barrier from the mother to the developing fetus.

The fetus can only effectively treat alcohol when the liver is fully developed and high levels of alcohol can affect the development of organs and the brain.

The fetus is thought to be the most exposed during organ formation during the first three months of pregnancy, but lesions may occur at any time.

People affected by FASD may have a range of problems, such as differences in facial features as well as learning and behavioral difficulties.

It is estimated that about 3.2% of babies born in the UK are affected by FASD, nearly four times the rate of autism, but it is often undiagnosed or misunderstood by doctors and the general public.

The Scottish Government figures expose children in care or adopted to a significantly increased risk of FASD, with 75% of children referred for adoption having previously been exposed to alcohol during their pregnancy.


Judith Knox with some of her son's musical instruments, which she describes as her great passion in life

Ms. Knox said that despite the serious problems with her son's behavior, he was very caring and described him as "charming and very funny".

She added that the teenager, who resides in a specialized support school, plays drums and guitar, which is her greatest joy.

Looking to the future, she said that her aspirations for him were simple. "I hope that he will be able to tell the time, manage the money and stay safe and not end up in a bad situation," she said.

"We can not cure of FASD"

FASD Hub Scotland will provide direct support services to people affected by FASD or living with FASD.

Knox, who will be working on the new service launched by Adoption UK Scotland, said it would be a boon for people in her situation.

"I was not given any information about the disease or where I could get help and advice," she said. "At that time, I did not know any other parent or guardian in the same position and I felt very lonely and isolated."

Aliy Brown, project manager, added, "We can not cure FASD, but many people can live with great success with this disease if they receive the right support at the right time."

The Scottish Government donated £ 140,000 to the assistance service.

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said, "A diagnosis of FASD is difficult for families and we can not underestimate the challenges each diagnosis brings.

"It is essential that we recognize the needs of this group of children and youth and ensure that adequate support is available for them and their families when they need it most."

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