The hardest thing I think ever to accept is that FASD, FAS, ARND, what ever name you want to call prenatal alcohol damage is an irreversible brain change. So with that said is it hopeless? Well I certainly hope not. I am raising 9 children with FASD. While it is definitely not an easy task it has its rewards. Will their lives always be different? Yes absolutely but that doesn’t have to be said as only a negative thing. Sometimes being different is a good thing. Okay in our society not so much. I know that a lot of the more successful FASD families are actually a bit isolationist. They home school and have adapted their child’s environment to totally fit the child. This is wonderful if you can and want to do that. However the fact is that most of us cannot completely do this. We also in our minds hope to have the outside (outside of fellow families dealing with FASD) world accept and embrace our child. The pain of not having this happen can be awful. Sometimes more so for the others in the family than the FASD individual. They may or may not notice (unfortunately usually do as they are very bright little bugs.) This is where the discrepancy comes in. Often what is said is “if they are so bright how can they have brain damage?” “You are just giving them excuses for their bad behavior and/or your bad parenting.” Okay that one can really hurt and piss a parent off. The fact is that yes there are some pretty significant brain changes. These children/adults are trying to deal with a brain whose processing highway may have become a bit like swiss cheese, or the grand canyon. So they do the best they can in a world that is in constant chaos to them.
If you lived in a place where everything was always going too fast, too bright, too much noise and you felt as if you were being crawled on with ants, would you be able to function and function well? Okay seriously try it sometime you would feel crazy. Okay so now that we have a kind of picture of what it is like to be a little bit affected by a chaotic environment let’s see how much homework, etc. you can do. Okay that is somewhat of a picture of your child/adults life. I have always liked the picture of a 5 minute child in a 10 second world. It is not that the child or adult who has FASD cannot do things…they may just need more time and less stress. Also how is the material being presented…remember VERY CONCRETE!!! Are they confused by the words you are using? Have you tried presenting the concepts using pictures, hands on, song, etc to help bring the point across? Do they need an action break to bring their bodies back into the here and now? Try to remember also that so often they feel people are upset with them…try to be as calm as you can. This is not something that is being done TO you. This is something that is a brain change and has to be dealt with as such and not as you would “bad” behavior. You cannot out parent brain damage or change. But you can revise things to help the person with brain changes. A lot of the same techniques used for stroke patients actually will help with our people who are struggling due to FASD. Keep going…it is an adventure but we are not alone and remember just because it is different doesn’t mean it is bad!