Children born into crack are already guaranteed to face a number of disadvantages and challenges before they have learned to walk.
It is essential to understand that just because a child has been carried by a mother who is addicted to crack, they won’t be any less intelligent than children carried by addiction-free mothers.
These children still hold the ability to learn and succeed in life. To give the child another chance in life, they need to be exposed to a healthy and positive learning environment that will consider their background, abilities, and possible downfalls.
Adapted learning environments are crucial when dealing with crack-affected children and will support them along their path to success in life despite any previous disadvantages.
What is crack and how does it affect the child?
Crack cocaine is commonly known as a crack and can have numerous effects on an unborn baby when consumed during pregnancy. Crack is different from heroin as a child will not be born addicted to crack if the mother has been using it during the pregnancy. They can, however, suffer numerous other health issues as a result of the addiction.
When you use crack, your circulation is drastically affected. When a mother uses Crack, she damages her baby-s blood vessels, causing them to become constricted and cut off the blood supply.
The lack of blood supply will strangle the fetus and can result in a number of health issues. In some cases, babies have been born with severe intracranial lesions (holes in the brain), a painful medical condition.
Crack children have no visual deformities and look just the same as any other child. Crack-affected children tend to only suffer from ‘soft’ neurological damage. ‘Soft’ damage is a term used by doctors to describe the often challenging to identify neurological differences between Crack-affected children and children born to mothers who do not take drugs.
Some signs of this ‘soft’ damage include extreme discomfort when the child is carried or picked up, sensitivity to human touch, arched backs when being held and endless crying paired with erratic arm movements.
How the school can help
As little as 1–3 years of special attention and intervention can help a crack-affected child return to the mainstream schooling system. The earlier thecrack-affected child can be identified, the earlier the intervention can occur, and progress can be made.
If the early intervention has taken place, the child will not need as much special education in the future when dealing with their education. If no intervention occurs, the child’s development will be stunted, and they will struggle throughout their schooling.
Other ways in which the schools can help crack-affected children is by using the following methods:
- Provide enough adults so that the children have more of a possibility to form an attachment and can feel equally nurtured as their peers.
- Create an environment that uses routines and rituals so that the children can adjust and start to feel more comfortable.
- Allow the children to play and work how they choose.
- Keep in mind the equipment and materials used in the class and whether they reduce or increase stimuli for the child.
- Help the children through their transition time and help them view it as more of an activity than a task.
Teachers must acknowledge and interpret the children’s feelings before deciding how to act in a situation. If the child has misbehaved, it is essential to understand why they have acted out and understand the problem to prevent re-occurrence. Understanding carers can make progress on the issues will help the child cope in the future and possibly avoid future outbursts.
By letting the child know what they have done and how it is wrong, they will start to learn and gain the ability to distinguish between their fantasies and reality and gain more self-control.
Allowing the children to make decisions in the classroom is a great tool to help them feel more responsible and help develop problem-solving skills. These tools can be used for all children and are an excellent way of generating some much-needed social skills to help them succeed in the future.
How parents can care for a crack-affected child
Unlike most babies, crack-affected babies will avoid eye-to-eye contact and avoid human touch. Any physical contact will set a crack-affected baby off and results in countless crying fits.
This basic form of contact is precisely what a baby needs to create connections and a sense that they are love and cared for. They are unable to feel nurtured or cared for as it can be too painful for them.
Doctors recommend only using one sense at a time when communicating with crack babies. Turn off the lights at night, sing to them, or rock them gently with no other sounds or distracting sights.
When the children start to grow older, the signs begin to become more apparent. Preschool crack-affected toddlers will learn to walk and talk a lot slower than most other children. They can show signs of violent behavior and often start to be socially isolated due to their unpredictable nature.
Some children struggle to show remorse or signs of conscience when dealing with friends or pupils at school, and often these are all tell-tale signs of a crack-affected child.
As they progress in school, the children will become more impulsive and possibly violent. In class, they tend to be hyperactive and struggle with focusing on the task at hand. Due to the isolation, the children struggle to make friends and will most probably struggle to fit into mainstream schooling long into their time at school.
Crack-affected children are perfectly capable of doing well in school achieving a successful life later on. The children may need a little extra help here and there and some intervention early on, but they are no different from any other child and don’t deserve to be isolated because of decisions they took no part in making.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.