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Deficiencies in development of cocaine children

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Deficiencies in development of cocaine children

It has been estimated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse that every year 40,000 babies are born to mothers who have used cocaine during their pregnancy. Unfortunately, the outcome is unfair for these children, because the mothers do not take into consideration that they are responsible for another person's life. These children have various levels of deficiencies in the learning process and in the way that they behave. The levels of deficiencies in children vary in accordance with the mother's consumption of cocaine. Thereby not only are there defects at birth, but also later on in the developmental years. Women who use cocaine while pregnant cause a great damage to their children during the developmental years; especially in the aspects of cognitive motor and social/ behavioral deficiencies.

Cognitive deficiencies are those that deal with an individual's thinking and reasoning process. These abilities are seen in the beginning school years, not at birth, but are the subtle characteristics that only through the school environment can be recognized. In a class environment, the deficiencies of a cocaine child are often confused with those of a disruptive child. The underlying truth is: teachers are not able to cope with them on an individual basis and give them more attention.

An initial sign that some children demonstrate is a lack of concentration on virtually every task. Excessive disorganization beyond that of regular children along with being more than just the class nuisance can be characteristics of cocaine-exposed children. While most children are able to stay on task, these children will be easily deterred if given the opportunity. These children tend to exhibit a lack of exploration of the environment which results in less pretend play (Cates, 68). In a study done by Mayes, 'when given a box of toys, for example they [spend] less time exploring the new toys than [do] the control children' (Vogel, 39). Another pending issue is that cocaine-exposed children do as well as regular children in settings with no distractions, such as a one-on-one quiet room session. The truth is that in real life there are a plethora of distractions. A study conducted at Wayne State University, in Detroit found 'that teachers rated 27 cocaine-exposed 6-year-olds as having significantly more trouble paying attention than 75 non-exposed children (the teachers did not know who was who) (Begley, 1997, 63). Imitative play is a way of learning for toddlers, which drug-exposed children are less likely to demonstrate. As for these children, incentives do not work. Normal children are satisfied with receiving a lollipop for reciting the 'ABC's' correctly. Cocaine-exposed children do not perceive this as a reward.

An area in the cognitive division is language development. The language barrier that most children must overcome is minimal in comparison to drug-exposed children. Children exposed in-utero to drugs, have difficulty following verbally instructed directions. They are 'more non-compliant'[needing] more adult assistance in the form of coaxing or re-direction to maintain their attention to the specific task' (Beckwith, 300). In a specific case study regarding drug exposed children, such as Trevor, a 5-year-old child that has problems dealing with simple tasks when it comes to receptive language. Instead of Trevor using verbal skills to communicate, he uses gestures and grunts to express himself. He is able to differentiate pictures of his immediate family, but only when they are given names (Cates, 66). 'Some children may have better success with receptive language (what is understood)' receptive language may be superior to expressive language development' In pre-school, these children experiences prolonged difficulty in identifying pictures and using expressive language' (Cates, 67).

There are motor development deficiencies that cocaine-exposed children are born with. These motor deficiencies can impair their ability to control muscle movements and can hinder the speed of their reactions. These children tend to have problems sitting still. They are constantly moving around and have high energy levels. Due to this motor deficiency these children have trouble taking-test. ''Most of the children of addicted mothers [require] four to seven very short sessions to complete testing'this was a stark contrast to comparison-group children' able to complete the test in two or three twenty minute sessions' (Hawley, 377).

Another problem with in utero drug-exposed children is that they continuously experience muscle spasms when grabbing objects. This [limits their] ability to independently accomplish directed activities such as placing wood pegs into specific holes'(Cates, 66). In certain studies done by researchers there has been a correlation between cocaine-exposed children having underdeveloped muscle tone and poor reflexes depending on the amount of drug intake by the mother while pregnant (Cates, 67). Consequently, they also exhibit signs of below average toddler development when it comes to the use of fine motor skills, such as cutting and pasting. This disadvantage can be distressing for the children who would like to join sports activities, as they grow older. Cocaine-exposed children have poor eye and hand coordination handicaps. In research, it has been demonstrated that 'visual-perceptual and fine motor problems persist as these children mature' (Cates, 66). These incidents can be socially devastating if a drug-exposed child wants to be on a sports team, but is not capable of performing to the team or the coach's expectations. All in all, the 'gross motor or fine motor deficits related to in utero drug exposure may cause problems with manipulating toys, resulting in frustration and making it more difficult to engage in peer play' (...

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