Meet Annie – #49 of 90 Real People. Real Lives. #FASD

“Hey Annie, I’ll be your friend and I bet all the people who have already run with me will be your friend too! I’ve met a whole bunch of great people at Red Shoes Rock and every time I go around the world I meet more. Come on Annie, take my hand… we can be friends” says Mac.

MEET ANNIE – My name is Annie and I’m 12. My mom and dad adopted me when I was 3. I couldn’t talk and walking was not smooth. Through lots of encouragement you can’t tell now. My language is still on a 3 year old level but I talk all day. The words I truly need just seem to get stuck somewhere between my brain and my mouth.

MY STRENGTHS- I’m a people pleaser, helper, and I care deeply for those I love. I am a cheerleader and am looking forward to cheering for the Warriors for the second year this year. Another strength is that I can find anything your looking for. I observe my environment in great detail!

STRUGGLES- Anything learning related is a struggle. I have to be in a special class to keep me from getting overwhelmed and shutting down. Cheer was modified for me. But they let me be on a modified pyramid. (Those ladies were so awesome). Making friends is struggle for me. You see, I’m 12, but emotionally I’m MICH younger so the kids don’t always want to play with me. I just play with my mom and my granny. Memory is also a struggle. But mainly when it comes to learning something.

MY WISH- My wish is that I could have friends and play like other kids. I wish I could read. I really really want to read. I wish everybody knew about FASD. And finally I wish the Texas Legislature would pass Annie’s Law which will require doctors to tell pregnant moms about the dangers of drinking while pregnant.

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Meet Jules – #48 of 90 Real People. Real Lives. #FASD

“Hey Jules you look like Tori – are you another twin… I’ve gotten to run with another set of twins already. That is so cool – let’s run we have a whole world to run around for 90 Real People. Real Lives International Virtual Relay Race. Let’s go!”

MEET JULES –   I am 22 years old and I have a twin sister.  I am working at my first job as a regular employee and I love it.  I do not like people to treat me different because I have an FASD, a disability.  My family is very important to me and they are helping me learn what I need to know to be successful and healthy.  I have never drank alcohol, alcohol is why I struggle and why life is hard for me.  I will never drink alcohol

STRENGTHS – I love music and art, I like to write poetry and write better than I can speak my thoughts.  I enjoy running, it helps to calm me down when I am feeling overwhelmed.  I am working hard at learning the skills I need to live independently.  I have to learn how to make safe choices.

STRUGGLES – I struggle with wanting something right now, hard to wait, my brain gets stuck on wanting it right now no matter what.  A lot of times people expect a lot from me because you cannot see that I think differently or that I sometimes get overwhelmed and stuck.

WISH – My biggest wish is: that I didn’t have FASD, it makes me so angry.  I should not have FASD, it makes my life really hard sometimes.

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FASD – It’s not all bad. 

LeeHarveyHeath

One thing I see a lot of is parents ranting, now I fully understand that parents need to vent its so hard raising a child with fetal alcohol, but when I see parents or possible parents only seeing the negative in FASD and thing there is nothing good about a child with FASD I find it quite upsetting. It really bothers me that some for what ever reason can’t see the light in the dark and there is ALWAYS a light, sometime you just have to shine your own torch to find it.

I’m almost 31, I have FASD, and as you can see from the photo which was just taken yesterday, 1- I love superheros, and 2- more importantly I can be really fun and I like anyone enjoy a good laugh BUT I have to feel comfortable with who I am with, I have just a handful of…

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Meet Tori – #47 of 90 Real People. Real Lives. #FASD

Another set of twins – Mac thinks that is pretty cool – two big sister kinda girls to run with that almost look alike for two days. Thumbs Up – Cool!

MEET TORI – I am 22 years old and I have a twin sister.  I work at different jobs in my community.  I live in a group home with my sister and two roommates. Someday I hope to live on my own with my sister in our own place.   I love playing and being in sports.  Sports make me feel alive and successful, makes me feel good inside.  School was really hard for me, because I process information differently than other people, reading is hard, and understanding is hard.  I learn better by doing.  I remember better if I have the chance to do it first.  Making friends was hard, I couldn’t figure out how to be like everyone else, now after high school I make friends more easily.  Lots of my friends process differently like me and so we understand each other better.

STRUGGLES – I really struggle with my impulses; I need reminders to do the right thing.

STRENGTHS – I love athletics, music and art.  I write my thoughts better than I can say them so I write lots of letters to people.  I am strong because my Mom and Dad taught me to be and they support me and keep me safe.  I have never drank alcohol because my brain has already been hurt by alcohol and I want to be stronger not hurt it more.

MY WISH – My biggest with is that I did not have FASD.  I hate FASD, I hate what it has done to me and my sister.

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Meet Christopher – #46 of 90 Real People. Real Lives. #FASD

MEET CHRISTOPHER – I am passionate about music: creating, discovering and sharing the positive benefits it has for people with developmental disabilities, especially those with an FASD diagnosis. I am fascinated with the brain, how it works and how music effects it. I love animals, museums, go karts, theatrical epicness.

 MY STORY:

There I was
Standing there.
No fear.
No nervousness.
I remember…I could see everything
Then..

I jumped

I was six years old when I picked myself up off the ground. I had hurt my ankle, nothing more. Nobody had noticed I had jumped off the roof of the mobile home I lived in. The very place of which I had already been exposed to things no six year old (or any child) should know, see and experience. I learned fear, cowardice, abandonment and how to run. I failed to thrive and lived in the foster care system from 4 mos. until I was adopted at 7.

I have many interests and I enjoy all of them. It didn’t used to be that way. Only 12 years ago I was struck by a blazin’ fever to learn everything. Before then, I had very little desire to read or learn anything as understanding most academics escaped me.

It felt like I “always” worked a zillion times harder than everyone around me to learn. I always felt 10 steps behind no matter what friendship or relationship I was in, no matter what job I had and especially on intellectual levels. I developed the survival skill of “knowing”  any given subject without actually knowing it.

I found out ‘why’ my life was so incredibly difficult and torturous in May 2014 (one week before my 44th Bday) when I learned of my having FAS.

Today, I love psychology, I have been a certified peer counselor and I study it regularly. I love philosophy and read the works of many different philosophers. I enjoy learning about physics and Einstein is my go-to guy (admittedly, it was the hair that initially got my attention), hobby robotics, geekery, the world of fiber art, etc.

There isn’t an art form I don’t like.

My passion is music. A few months ago I decided to follow this passion. I love everything from classical to Barbra Streisand to The Bee Gees to George Benson to Train to Ozzy to Iron Maiden. I’m most passionate about theatrical/cinematic/epic music. I’m in the process of creating my first album.

Unlike other art forms music utilizes and strengthens both sides of the brain. To Me, music is much more than turning on the radio or studying music theory or listening to Mozart (speaking of Mozart, my middle name is actually Amadeus).

For me, rather than thinking in words only, thinking in sound is the language I prefer to use to relate my experiences, work through difficult emotions; to connect with my environment, its’ conversations and to recall memories.

I believe people with an FASD could greatly enhance their quality of life by including some kind of music in their daily lives.  I want to share my music with as many people as possible but mainly and mostly with those who have an FASD diagnosis. There are days when my head talks to me by playing tapes of comparisons and impossiblities. Music, essentially, reminds me that “Just because you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t mean it isn’t there!”

STRENGTHS – I am sensitive to people’s feelings. I am experienced with where many of them come from. I am vibrant and energetic. I’ve even had people in their 40’s tell me I make them feel young. I am compassionate and forgiving; willing to be understanding and trusting. I believe I’m a fair person and open-minded. I prefer to help people strengthen themselves through self-discovery, confidence-builders and, above all, through edification.

STRUGGLES –  I actually have many daily challenges due to my FAS. Here are some of them: sensory overload, emotional overload, thought processing (specifically getting my thoughts to become actions), understanding the punch lines of jokes and telling jokes, memory retention, having childlike behavior, connecting, math,

WISH –  I have a goal to be a public speaker in hopes to inform people about FASDs, motivate and help propel the already-flourishing “FASD Revolution” and create & develop new relationships with those living with an FASD.

I want people with an FASD (and those who don’t) to feel and connect with the healing and powerful benefits of music and, perhaps, some of the music I create.

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FASD – Be a little flame in a dark world. 

LeeHarveyHeath

I know from talking and reading different things from parents, bio or not, just how hard it can be to love someone that has FASD, after chats with my own mum, I don’t know how she did it all those years with me not having a diagnosis. She is by far the strongest woman I have met, and she is my rock, always has been, even though for many years of torture from me I didn’t realise how much she was always there for me, and always picked up the pieces in the aftermath of my destructive life in which she watched me slowly kill myself through alcohol addiction, and all the calls she would get from A&E saying I’d been admitted because I had self harmed, jumped out of a window, or ran in front of a car. How she survived through all that pain I’ll never know, but…

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Meet Katya – #45 of 90 Real People. Real Lives. #FASD

MEET KATYA – My name is Ekaterina but people call me Katya. I was adopted from Russia and I am 24 and I love cook. I live with FASD and I struggled in school until my parents put me into a private school called Katherine Thomas school a all day special needs school I am finally accepting that I have FASD. I work really hard to do well and I did well. I even got a letter from Obama for 500 volunteer hours in supporting our church garage sale.

STRENGTHS – Good at cooking and outgoing I am funny.

STRUGGLES – Trusting people and getting people to understand me

WISH – I wish I did not have FASD but that is who i am

VIDEO ON FASD

https://www.facebook.com/ktretick?ref=br_rs

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Meet Tisha – #44 of 90 Real People. Real Lives. #FASD

Mac got really excited when Tisha decided to run with us! She is from South Africa – so on his way around the globe he stopped by to pick her up.

MEET TISHA – Tisha is 20. She came into our family at 10 weeks old as she was abandoned at birth. She was a premature baby with a lot of challenges and wasn’t expected to live more than a few days after she came to her family.

MY STORY – I am 20 and had to attend special needs school. I have a full-time job that I love and have friends. I like watching YouTube. I cannot read or write or do numbers. I have difficulty remembering.

STRENGTHS – I like people and I am friendly.  I have a full time job. I try my best. I talk about FASD to warn women about drinking alcohol when pregnant.

STRUGGLES – Not being able to read and write, this is very difficult. Not understanding money so I don’t know what to pay for things or if I should get change.

MY WISH –  Is to stop women drinking alcohol during pregnancy and that’s why I create awareness whenever I can. I go on TV, Radio, Newspapers etc and I always ring a bell at events on International FASD Day 9 September at 9.09am

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Congratulations on making the NEWS – you’re doing awesome in building FASD awareness.

Tisha-news-2

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Meet Leah – #43 of 90 Real People. Real Lives. #FASD

MEET LEAH – I’m Leah and I am 10 years old , I came to live with my Nana when I was 11 months old. I was exposed to alcohol in the womb.

STRENGTHS – I like to read and can be very creative, I like telling jokes and spending time with my family who adore me ,

STRUGGLES – I struggle to understand why I’m different to other children and can’t do some things they can ,

WISH – She always says she wishes her brain worked the same as others

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Meet Chanel – #42 of 90 Real People. Real Lives. #FASD

My name is Chanel Torres. I was born with FAS.

My mission is to help those who are living and dealing with FAS and to stop FAS in unborn babies.

To do this, I spend my free time giving presentations at local schools, hospitals, Juvenile Detention Centers, nursing programs and many other facilities. I educate as many people as I can on FAS and to give them a chance to get to know me and my struggles and to help spread the word about FAS. I have received many awards and certificates of appreciation for my hard work in delivering my message. These awards are great, but the biggest award I can get is to know my message is being delivered and helping many people and unborn babies out there.

When I made the decision to talk about FAS I was so excited because my goal in life is to completely put an end to FAS. If I could prevent one more child from this awful syndrome, I would be happy, but my ultimate goal is to get the word out there to young people that even one alcoholic drink can hurt your unborn baby. I want everyone to know about the effects alcohol has on the fetus. FAS is 100% preventable. I hope to one day be able to speak on one of the daytime talk shows. I know this will allow me to get my message to a much larger audience.

I was diagnosed with FAS in 1989. My birth mom drank every day while she was pregnant with me. It was very VERY hard for my birth mom to give me up for adoption because she loved me so much and wanted me to have a better life then she could give me since she was an alcoholic, so she did. A child protective service worker and a public health nurse delivered me to my adoptive parents at the age of three weeks old. I spent the first three weeks of life in the hospital, battling a host of FAS related problems, for example, low birth weight, feeding problems, respiratory distress, inadequate development of my lungs, and hypoxia. My adoptive parents were told that the amniotic fluid in which I bathed in for thirty two weeks, reeked of alcohol. I was unable to relax and over responded to verbal and tactile stimulation. I cried often.

Because I was diagnosed early, my adoptive parents were able to get me the help I needed at a very young age. I received PT, OT, Speech therapy and a special education teacher that came to my home when I was just 6 months old. My new family gave me a stable home, which is very important for the growth and development of any child but especially for a child with FAS. Children who live in an abusive or unstable home, with their alcoholic families, may repeat that bad behavior. Because most children with FAS are at risk for unemployment and often don’t graduate from high school, I was looking forward to my graduation day. I worked so hard for it. FAS Will be with me for life! There is no cure! I still struggle with the effects of FAS I have trouble concentrating and learning. I have tremors so it makes it difficult to write . I get frustrated easily, and have problems with my memory. My growth problems make me smaller then most people. I also make some bad choices sometimes and have to learn some hard lessons.

One of the big problems I have is a speech problem that makes me stutter. Because of all of these problems, I have a hard time keeping friends, and during high school, I got made fun of often. These are problems that will never go away. FAS is irreversible. Living with FAS is VERY difficult and sometimes I wish I didn’t have it. I have to remind myself to stay positive and strong so I can help others just like me, and prevent any other innocent unborn child from suffering with FAS. My dream is to have a law passed that women who drink while pregnant should be monitored closely by a social worker and have mandated weekly alcohol and drug testing. if they fail an alcohol or drug test then they should be placed in an in-house treatment center until the baby is born.

I know it is very expensive to set up these treatment centers but if you think about the long term outcome, Billions of dollars would be saved. Social Security and Medicaid would save Americans Billions of dollars. It cost approximately 2.2 Billion dollars each year for medical care, foster care, social workers, special education teachers, Juvenile Detention Centers, and other fees for children with FAS each year. If that law had been in effect when my birth mom was pregnant with me, then I would not be diagnosed with FAS today and I could fulfill my dream of becoming a veterinarian, get married, drive a car, and live a normal life.

I have the same dreams that most of you have but because of my diagnoses, it’s very hard for me to learn the way other people do.

My advice, my plea, is that you PLEASE PLEASE do not drink while you are pregnant, even if you plan on giving your baby up for adoption. Let your baby fulfill his or her dreams and live a happy healthy life without the struggles of FAS.

For all the fathers to be, you play an important role in this too.

You must be encouraging and supporting. Staying away from alcohol yourself would be helpful. After all, this is your baby also. If you are pregnant or are thinking about becoming pregnant, avoiding all alcohol is best because some woman may be pregnant and not know, especially if it is early on. If you are a child with FAS, I want you to remember that you did not ask to be born with FAS. But it is something you have to deal with. My tips are to keep a routine, try not to get too stressed out, take it slow, take a break when you need one, and take some deep breaths. If you need someone to talk to I am here for you. I am fighting for you and for all the unborn babies. I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my story, for allowing me to be an advocate for the unborn babies, and for allowing me to share my story with you. Now I would like to ask that all of you share this story with your friends, neighbors and anyone you think might benefit from my story. The more people I can educate, the more babies I can save from this awful syndrome and the suffering that goes along with FAS. This is my story. This is my life. ~~~Chanel Torres

The National ” YES I CAN ” Award and this can be viewed on YOUTUBE just by entering Chanel Torres FAS National YES I CAN award in the YouTube search bar ,BayNEWSigning-TorresS9 voted her as health advocate for the year of 2013, BayNEWS9 chose her to win the every day heroes award, Pinellas Park YOUNG HEROES award, Beverly Hills Book award, Moms Choice award, International Readers Favorite Book Award.. And several other awards

A copy of my autobiography is now available for purchase on Amazon books! SIGNING WITH A HEAVY HAND AND HEART , LOVE MOMMY by Sondra and Chanel Torres ( a mom’s choice award book, Beverly Hills book award, international readers favorite book award)

To schedule me to speak email – Nuurse@aol.com and put FAS in the subject

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