I really always want to leave this blog with a positive mentality. I want to pass on to others that while living with FASD is different it does not have to be hopeless. However, I also want to be honest it is not easy. It is not easy for the person living with this terrible birth defect nor is it in any way easy for the caregivers. For some caregivers there comes a time where tough decisions have to be made also. This is not because they are not great parents/grandparents/foster/adoptive, etc. The fact is we need to pull together and support these people. Brain changes can be incredibly horrific for some people. Some of the people affected have issues controlling their tempers, emotions, etc and this can cause so many issues for all involved. Then when you add in how some of our kids have had very chaotic home lives and this can cause other issues for these kids including attachment issues. The attachment issues can be due to changes in the brain but the addition of multiple caregivers, etc. can just exacerbate this. I grieve for families who end up having to make such hard choices of whether a child is safe in the home environment.
When a brain is being formed in an environment where alcohol is present any area that is being formed is going to be affected. So if the babies brain is forming say the limbic system at the time of alcohol exposure the child’s attachment, emotional functions such as pleasure from eating are affected. This is huge. Even a small amount of damage can make it where they child does not ever equate hunger with eating or equate feelings of love from the parents as a good thing so may not ever fully attach or not the way we hope for as parents. If the brain is forming the corpus callosum and is damaged the brain will have difficulty communicating between the two halves. The corpus callosum is like the telephone between the two hemispheres relaying information back and forth. Damage to the frontal lobes can cause issues with memory, inhibition, learning and behaviors. These are just some of the major areas of our brains and just a few of the difficulties but they can be horrendous when we see them day to day.
I cannot imagine some days being the person who has this brain damage but I also want to say that it is so easy to judge when we aren’t the ones dealing with it. I know I have received lots of well meaning parenting advice. The problem is when you are a parent of a child who cannot unlearn their behaviors you are dealing with a lot of stress and when well meaning people tell you what you are doing wrong it can be very depressing and hurtful. I know that usually people really aren’t trying to be hurtful but the fact is that it becomes extremely hurtful after a while. I do tell parents to try to just ignore it and realize it is from someone who is uninformed of the issues but let’s fact it that is easier said than done. One of my favorite advice was from a gentleman in Walmart. He saw my son on the ground and came over to inform me that a good butt whopping would solve it all as in his day kids didn’t act that way. I calmly informed him I appreciated his advice and had never heard that a good butt whopping was a cure for epilepsy but if it would help my son not have seizures like this I would look into it. The man’s wife could not stop laughing and said it served her husband right as he always shared his opinions when they weren’t warranted. He did apologize. The fact was that what he saw versus what was happening were not the same thing. He thought I was on the floor struggling with a child in a temper tantrum and not a child on the floor having a tonic clonic seizure that we were trying to help him through. So see it is usually a misunderstanding more than anything.
Back to the hard decisions. Okay I get on here and try to offer hope and just overall life experience but the fact is that my children aren’t perfect either and we deal with hard decisions at times too. In the end it has to be what is best for the family and the child or person. The reason we have other care facilities (like residential centers, inpatient psychiatric, assisted living, etc.) is because sometimes it is what is best. Each family has to look at what is in the best interest of all. This is not giving up on someone…this is doing what is needed at the time. It does not have to be permanent either. Keep your heads up and keep knowing that we are not alone and there are others who understand the issues associated with FASD, RAD and all the other associated mental health issues.