Date of Award


Document Type

Research Paper

Superseded Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education (Special Education)

Colleges & School

Cardinal Stritch College

Degree Granted By

Cardinal Stritch College

First Advisor

Sister Joanne Marie Kliebhan, O.S.F.

Library of Congress Subject Heading

Infants—Effect of drugs on; Reproduction—Effect of drugs on


Infants of maternal cocaine abuse are at high risk for developmental problems. Most infants and children show symptoms of withdrawal after prenatal exposure to cocaine. Such withdrawal symptoms show direct physical effects on the infants. Due to their heightened irritability when they experience subacute withdrawal problems, infants exposed to cocaine are probably difficult to care for, and thus are also "at risk" for poor or suboptimal parenting. In addition, the capacities for caretaking by the parents are often in doubt, because of their difficulties in structuring their lives (e.g. keeping appointments for prenatal care or methadone maintenance programs) and other social problems regarding financial difficulties, housing or legal problems. These biological as well as social risk factors make it very likely that children exposed to cocaine will show developmental problems. With the growing numbers of these unique children, people are wondering how to support and educate these children in different treatment programs. Scientists are just beginning to explore how various drugs may affect the development of physical coordination, language, and emotional interactions. Health agencies through their clinical, epidemiological and basic research programs are increasing knowledge of immediate and long-term effects of drug use during pregnancy. Special education teachers are facing the challenge of educating children exposed to cocaine. The purpose of this study was threefold: (1) to appraise the ability of special educators to identify potential problem areas for children exposed to cocaine; (2) to research techniques for facilitating the educational development of these unique individuals; and (3) to furnish teachers with informational tools to assist in developing appropriate programs. The research conducted in this study investigated, evaluated, and recommended sources of informational tools for special education teachers. By using this study as a guide, teachers will have a concise outline of practical and factual information about programming for cocaine exposed children. This study covered the medical, social, psychological and educational aspects of children exposed to cocaine. The current issues of educating, early intervention and programs now in use nationwide for these medically fragile infants and toddlers were discussed. Indicators of cocaine symptoms and effects were also addressed. As maternal cocaine abuse is a relatively recent concern, the information was limited to the last five years.


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