When parenting a child who has different needs like that of a child who has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) can at times be a bit confusing. The issues rise when we all have to decide the intent behind an action. After all they are still children so at times what you are dealing with is just naughty kid behavior but then again what about when it is the disability that is causing the behavior. So then do you have to play detective every single time??? How do you know how to react to the issues? What if you decide wrong?
Well, I am going to tell you a story of what can be and what has been. I have a son that we have always struggled with. In many ways I guess he has been my hardest child. The issues rise from the fact that he was misdiagnosed for so long and we just have struggled with how to parent him. It took 3 years from his placement with us until he was finally diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). He was also the first child we ever had who had FAS. So I guess in a way D became our test case. I look back and feel awful about this as I know we made a lot of mistakes. We struggled as for so long we were taught to parent him as a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). I feel like a recent psychological eval is what truly opened our eyes to what was going on with him. We went to a neuropsychologist who specializes in children who have been prenatally exposed to alcohol. Through her we learned of how truly much D was struggling. His test scores surprised us as we knew there was learning disability but did not realize how severe it was truly until these tests. So I went home and after talking to my husband we decided to try parenting him truly to his ability level. WOW. So we had been having huge behavioral issues (he is a teen and I think we thought that was what was bringing it on). We have changed everything in his environment. So now I want to share a story.
D was wandering around the house taking change and sticking it in a box. The thing was he was taking it out of peoples clothes pockets and my change box etc. I watched him scrounging for a while and finally said “what are you doing?” He replied, “I am getting money for christmas presents.” I said “where are you getting the money from D?” He looked at me and calmly replied, “from your pants, your change jar and dad’s pants, etc…” I said “D do you see what you are saying? MY pants, MY change jar…” He looked at me for a bit and said “oh, is this your money? Do I have to give it back?” He did not blow and neither did I. I didn’t accuse him of stealing or yell. He did not flip out but did seem very sad. I talked to him and we were able to work out the fact that he wanted to earn money for presents and he figured out ways to make that money instead of taking other peoples. He truly seemed confused that him “collecting” this money was stealing. He had never thought that this was my money and not his for the taking. This change in perspective has helped us to reason things out and figure out that at times we are blowing up over simple misunderstandings. So sometimes taking a step back and changing perspective can make all the difference.