Tuesday, September 9

FASD Awareness Day

Today is the 10th annual Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day. That's a mouthful that simply means today has been chosen to raise awareness about FASD (any disorder caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol).

When we adopted Abigail, we knew she had been exposed to alcohol, and she has since been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE), one of the disorders encompassed in FASD. Sometimes people are surprised that we openly talk about Abby's disorder, but we want to raise awareness about it. I also want her caretakers (Sunday school teachers, babysitters, etc.) to know that my precious daughter cannot always control her behavior, not because she's defiant (though that happens too), but certain behaviors are hers because of brain damage. She needs compassion, she needs patience, she needs lots and lots and lots of repetition and then she will need still more repetition.

There is no cure. The damage is permanent. However, we are slowly discovering things that can help. We're still learning about how Abby processes information and what things will trigger certain behaviors in her, and it is extremely challenging to navigate this parenting journey. There are days when I feel it's hopeless and I throw myself on God's mercy and grace (which I should be doing every day anyway) and beg Him for wisdom. For me and my husband, it's been a lonely road. We don't know many parents who have done this. On the rare occasion we do get to talk with a parent who has been there, it is one of the greatest gifts, just because they "get it."

Thankfully, we have found a few things that have proven very beneficial, and the latest one is...(drumroll please)...swimming! I don't exactly know why, but Abigail is much better able to focus and control herself when she is regularly swimming. We bought an annual membership to our local pool a few months ago, and I take the kids swimming three days a week. When we don't go, we really notice the difference.

Don't get me wrong, Abby is the sunshine in our family! Despite my utter inadequacy to parent this child, God knew what He was doing when He brought her into our lives. She brings a balance to our other melancholy personalities, she loves life so much that it is impossible to not have that vivaciousness wear off on us, and she has the most compassionate heart you've ever seen!


a portland granny said...

She's a darling little girl! Every family needs a challenge child! She looks mischievious . The kids are looking very studious in previous post. So cute to see them concentrating like that.

Abby is working hard on her manuscript writing. It looks good and I love those wide spaced lines for her age-group. We used to call those lines "head line, waist line, and foot line" during instruction.

It all looks organized, busy and fun. There are so many advantages to home schooling, especially at this age.

Have a great time as you begin your year. (I am still trying to connect with Elliot about schedule)

DebbieLynne said...

It's good to let Sunday School teachers in on her disability. When I taught, parents didn't tell me.

I have seen some parents, however (and rest assured, I seriously doubt you'd do this), who use a child's disability to excuse disobedience. I had one Sunday School student who was dyslexic, so I never required her to read out loud (I left the decision to her). One day, during a crafts project, she started taking another girl's crayons. Of course, I refused to to accept her behavior. Later, her mom yelled at me for disciplining a "disabled child." Actually, I still doubt dyslexia causes a child to steal.

Sunday School teachers need to know accurate information about disabilities. Thanks for telling Abby's teachers the truth!


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