THOUGHTS ABOUT FASD

My daughter was in her high school health class, and the teacher asked
“Does anybody know what FAS stands for?”
My daughter raised her hand and answered, “Fetal Alcohol Syndrome”.
The teacher asked her how she knew.
Her answer was, “I heard it from my family.”

We were hearing about this at breakfast this a.m.
She then very humorously asked, “Ok mom, which ones of us have FAS?”
“Just  name  names!”

Mike and I looked at each other and smiled.  I was laughing inside.
Why?
FAS in NOT funny.  Alcohol is a terrible trauma to the brain of a developing baby that
can cause lifelong problems.  In the most serious of cases it can cause damage to the other organs of the body too.

I smiled because though our daughters’ lives have been touched by the effects of Alcohol,
we also know that the brain CAN and DOES heal.
That does not mean things will be perfect, and we will never know what things would have been like had alcohol not been a factor, but it doesn’t matter!

Did I say that?  IT DOESN’T MATTER!

Yes.

The reason I say that is that we have no spare time to mourn what is lost.  We have no spare time to commiserate and wallow in pity, and for some of us parents even, self pity.

There is WORK to be done! Much work! And with GREAT HOPE for the future, armed with a true understanding that things are not the same, we press forward and love our children through.
Children CAN learn.  They CAN find self control.  They CAN heal.
But they need our support and understanding to get there.

I remember when our sons were little, and we had some very extreme difficulties due to the effects of prematurity.Honestly, looking back, we had some more difficult times with   our son than we have had with our daughters from hard places.  I felt hopeless for a while, especially when his repetitive behaviors were non stop to the point a neighbor came over and asked us why we don’t just get rid of him!  I am not kidding. :/ That neighbor caused me to think about my calling!
That hopelessness lasted  a short while, because I could either fight for my son to improve and do his best, or I could the be obstacle in his way to keep him from growing.
I didn’t want to be that obstacle, so putting emotion aside, we forged toward a goal together.
Today, that son, whom everybody believed was developmentally delayed, mentally delayed and behaviorally challenged, is a husband, father and teacher.  Even though he wasn’t reading at 11 years old…. He is now a college graduate and a certified teacher.

He had brain damage. Severe brain damage.  If HE can do it! Anybody can do it!

And so, with the girls coming home , we just didn’t worry so much about FAS.

We knew that two of them for sure had lengthy exposure, and our youngest daughter was exposed in utero and after she was born.  She was nursing on a drunk mother. 🙁

It took one of our girls 5 years to learn her times tables, and 2 of them, if they don’t keep up with certain types of math, forget it altogether and have to relearn it.
However, they have both learned to read and write well!
If we didn’t try hard to do math, they might never succeed in that area, and they must have some success in order to understand a bank account or even possibly go to college.
So we tried many different ways to learn math concepts, and found ones that worked.

The brain can make new connections! This is the good news on brain science!
Just as the brain can be damaged by alcohol exposure, the brain can develop new connections, if we help our children through nurture,  and mental exercise.

Kids from trauma backgrounds learn things a little differently.  Commonly,  they do not understand cause effect.
We know for our youngest daughter, this has been her biggest challenge.
She has had to learn by repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat….. not because she is bad and won’t learn, but because that is how she is designed to learn.
Accepting that, makes those repeats easier for me. 🙂
YES! ACCEPTING WHAT IS… helps me to parent better!

Sweetie 4’s baby chicken died this a.m.  I know that for her, she will have to go through the process of sadness, picking out a little box and burying the baby bird, then praying for him; basically conducting her own funeral, before she can study. 🙂
So, I am in here writing, and she is out there having a little funeral.
IMG_0357 IMG_0365 IMG_0367
When she comes in, she will then be able to concentrate on her work.
If I told her she needed to do her work first, it wouldn’t happen.
That is how she is designed.  So I work with her instead of against her.

When we need to help our children make changes, redo’s work really well.
Each time there is a redo, a connection is made in the brain on how to do something
differently.  And by our own modeling behavior, changes occur for our children. Over time, behaviors we have worked to achieve, have become a  habit and the right way of doing something or responding   automatically happens now. 🙂
(of course not 100% of the time, or we would be talking about perfection, and none of us are perfect)

As parents, we have more of an effect on our children than we might think.
If we choose to see our children’s abilities and help them to achieve  even though they  struggle, we will see them achieve much!  And we will all celebrate what they CAN do.
If we focus on the negatives and the “dis-abilities”,  we will be the motivation killer that
results in under achievement.

Honestly, I am so glad that we had the variety pack of boys that we did, before the girls came home.
We had some difficult times working through prematurity, seizure activity, brain damage, cerebral palsy, dyslexia, general learning disabilities and more…..

They prepared us for our girls. 🙂

Accepting our children for who they are, and not seeing them through the eyes of a diagnosis will go far in helping them achieve all they can be, because our children are deep and interesting and mysterious and complicated, not just a one faceted diagnosis!

If WE as adults never stop learning and growing, why do we think our children won’t continue to learn and grow well past the age of 18??  We shouldn’t sell ourselves short!

I am still learning new things, and to cease to learn is to cease to live!
Don’t parent from fear.  Don’t think you have just a short time and then you are done.  It isn’t true.
Use the time you have with your children wisely.  Encourage them and give them the tools they need for a continued life learning!  Your influence will continue well past the age of 18, if you establish that positive, loving relationship with them now.

Comments warmly welcomed!

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