Horrible behavior from #FASD by R. J. Formanek

Often, I read messages from parents telling me about the “HORRIBLE” behavior exhibited by their children and the trauma they are feeling because of it. Sadly, many of us living with prenatal exposure to alcohol have had a hard road to follow, with no supports or understanding at all, so many of us have made mistakes. They say we are only as happy as our most difficult child situation, and well folks when you are living with a trying to become an adult in a brain that is taking molasses time to grow up it can be a journey of extreme parenting. When we mix dysmaturity with becoming an adult chronologically it is a nasty mix. You cannot change the structure of his brain or give him abilities he may not be capable of mastering.

We, the adults with FASD know how tough this is.

We’ve somehow lived it and survived. Some with parents at our sides, but many of us abandoned while we figure out our life path. It is not easy flying with broken wings. Time does not heal the wounds we’ve been given before we were born.

As adults, living with the challenges of FASD, we aim to change that with the kids growing up now by providing a bridge of understanding potenial proper accommodation and that can make all the difference later. So many of us – people with FASD and caregivers have tried to go this alone. Remember, you do not need to do this alone – you can develop your own braided cords. And that we will write about in the coming weeks.

 Let me begin…

I think I can best approach this via my own life experience, and hope that there are some parallels between experiences.

I left my family at the age of 14, into care since we were not able to get along for a number of reasons. The biggest reason would be something we had no idea about (FASD) and thus were stuck dealing with all the classic behaviors with no explanation. My grandparents were at a loss, they had not dealt with anyone quite like myself, and mixed with their advancing years having a rock crazed teenager around must have been very challenging.

On the surface I was belligerent, cocky and totally full of myself…

… but on the inside I was confused, hurt and really didn’t understand why I was so different. But I knew I was… everyone told me I was.

So, I spent a year going through 13 foster homes and was finally legally emancipated and “set free” to pay for my own mistakes. The only thing the system could think of doing with me at that time was to make me “an adult in the eyes of the law” and then I could be put into the correctional system as an adult.

 Yes… that was the plan social services came up with for me. I personally find it quite barbaric… but that was then…..

Long story shortened (thankfully, lol) instead of going directly to jail and not collecting $500 I went into a group home with a number of other incorrigible young adults. I stayed there for 5 years, and to all appearances I was doing nothing good with my life, parties, and lots of girls etc… but I was learning about me.
There was so much I did not know, starting with myself and my own feelings and thoughts… and I needed to figure out what those were.

I needed to see the world and experience the good and the bad myself, it’s the way I understand things… by experience.

That road has taken me many very interesting places and I have met some very interesting people, and I have been so many different people to so many others that I learned who I really am.

But my thought processing is different, and I do things at my own speed… no matter what the calendar says, I know how I feel.

People tried to help, but not having the same type of experience I did put them at a disadvantage… what worked for them did not work for me because it did not make sense to me, the way they explained it. Not their fault, we just speak different English I guess.

But there were things that helped along the way:

  • Knowing somewhere there were people who believed in me, even if I did not see them every day.
  • People who cared for me, but understood I had to walk this path alone and trusted that when I needed help I would ask. I know now how difficult it was, but at the time I needed to make my own way, make my own mistakes and have my very own successes. I NEEDED to do that. For me.

It was more than a drive, it was a reason to go on.

Some people had a hard time seeing that, and it took years for me to start to put it all together and show positive improvement… but it DID start to happen. I reached out for a more ‘normal’ life.

Well… as close to that as possible, anyways.

I guess, in the end what I am saying is that you raised your child and what you taught him is in there, but he needs to apply it to his own life, and that will happen at some point.

I do not know what your loved one is feeling about what is going on, but doubtlessly he or she  IS processing and learning every day.

Now, none of this is much comfort to you at this point, but it’s ok to pull back and be a more “quiet support”… he wants independence and helping him find it can be a great thing for you both.

He will learn to do things, or he will learn what he can not do,
but in the meantime it’s hard to sit and watch.
I get that… as a parent I do understand.

Trust in the values you have given him all his life to one day surface and you will be so proud! Watch over him as best you can, be there when he needs you, cheer the accomplishments he makes on his own, help pick up the pieces when he falls.

Together you CAN make this work… it takes faith and love but it can come to pass. Hang on, it’s going to take a while…
but your family is worth it.

I hope that makes sense……

Take time for yourselves – caregivers we don’t need you overwhelmed. We need you breathing to help us. Hopefully in the coming months we can provide ideas of how to take care of you while helping to navigate and guide us! Just remember in the end it is our life and our understanding and our language and sometimes it is very difficult to bridge.

Difficulties with Screening for #FASD in Adult Forensic Populations

Guest Blogger / Author:  Jerrod Brown

511ec-thewhitestwall1Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is a group of disorders that does not lend itself well to screening, assessment, and diagnosis without proper awareness, education, and training related to the complexities of the disorder. The varied neuropsychological and dysmorphology symptomatology of FASD contribute to screening and diagnostic issues. Specifically, individuals with FASD typically have neuropsychological deficits (e.g., executive control, impulsivity, and decision-making) that require high levels of support and services, but can present relatively independently of intelligence. Complicating these already challenging neuropsychological symptoms, only around 10 % of individuals with FASD have visible signs of facial dysmorphia, which become less apparent as individuals physically mature into adulthood. This combination of symptomatology limits the ability of unprepared clinicians to render differential diagnoses and increases the likelihood of under-identification and misdiagnosis of FASD.

The identification of FASD is further muddled by a lack of reliable screening instruments in forensic settings, sometimes limited access to medical and historical records, and memory-related issues. First, the relative dearth of FASD screening instruments developed and validated for use in forensic settings, especially in adult populations only contributes to the under-identification of FASD. Second, gaps in current and historical medical records also make it sometimes difficult to identify the presence of prenatal alcohol exposure with any degree of certainty for adults. The fact that some individuals with FASD were adopted or involved in multiple foster care placements only decreases the likelihood of such records or access to the birth mother. Third, adults with FASD often have memory issues. This includes impairments in short-and long-term memory and the potential for suggestibility (e.g., inclination to agree with statements and implications of others) and confabulation (e.g., the creation of new memories from real and fictional experiences). As such, a clinician should not solely rely on information reported by an adult who possibly has FASD without seeking out collateral sources of information. Working to resolve these screening and assessment issues and increasing the likelihood of early and accurate identification and implementation of appropriate services and supports offers the most promise in rendering desistance from involvement in the criminal justice system.

The varied symptomatology and screening and assessment issues of FASD emphasize the importance of awareness amongst forensic professionals. Unfortunately, there is a lack of general awareness of FASD among forensic professionals, which is contributed to by limited coverage of the disorder during education and advanced trainings. Further, there are few forensic experts in the area of FASD. Not only does this often leave many questions of how to deal with adults with FASD who are involved in the criminal justice system unanswered, but this lack of expertise also limits the potential of referral for specialized FASD assessments involving individuals in adult forensic populations. Complimenting this lack of knowledge in the field is a lack of adult specialized FASD-based treatment and intervention options in both community and confined settings. These shortcomings highlight the importance of implementing FASD awareness campaigns in adult forensic settings and expanded forensic-specific coverage of FASD in educational and continuing education settings.

Author Biography: Jerrod Brown, MA, MS, MS, MS, is the Treatment Director for Pathways Counseling Center, Inc. Pathways provides programs and services benefiting individuals impacted by mental illness and addictions. Jerrod is also the founder and CEO of the American Institute for the Advancement of Forensic Studies (AIAFS), lead developer and program director of an online graduate degree program in Forensic Mental Health from Concordia University, St. Paul, Minnesota, and the Editor-in-Chief of Forensic Scholars Today. Jerrod is currently in the dissertation phase of his doctorate degree program in psychology. Please contact Jerrod at Jerrod01234Brown@Live if you have questions about this article or would like a full list of references used for this article.

Confabulation (verb: confabulate) is a memory disturbance, defined as the production of fabricated, distorted or misinterpreted memories about oneself or the world, without the conscious intention to deceive.

The Whitest Wall by Jodee Kulp takes readers into the world of three individuals living in a regular community and demonstrates how this disability affects day-to-day functioning most people tilt their heads at but don’t understand. Winner of Best Young Adult USA Fiction (2012) Winner Mom’s Choice Gold Adult Fiction and Young Adult Fiction.

Braided Cord – Tough Time In and Out Finalist for About.com Memoirs

We were surprised yesterday that Liz’s new book Braided Cord is a finalist in About.com. You can vote once a day for as many days as you like between now and March 8, 2011. Liz shares her adult transition with fetal alcohol to build understanding and hopefully create a catalyst of strategies for the next generation of affected young people.

Just click here and vote: Braided Cord
(Please consider joining us in helping her win this award – all it takes is a quick click!) Braided Cord

If you want a copy of her book click here

List Price: $24.95
6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Black & White on White paper
320 pages
Better Endings New Beginnings
ISBN-13: 978-0984200719
ISBN-10: 0984200711
BISAC: Self-Help / Substance Abuse & Addictions / General

I was born an addict and ever since I was tiny I have overdone, overlooked or overwhelmed myself. I was born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, otherwise known as FASD. That means my mom drank while I was trying to grow in her stomach and because of her drinking some of my parts got mixed up and didn’t grow too well. My differences are hidden and that’s a real pain, because it is easy to judge a person by what you see.
The most difficult parts of my life are caused from my brain which was probably the most affected. I have trouble learning new things and I live in a world that is louder, softer, harder, scratchier, noisier, shakier, slippery and more chaotic than most of the people reading this. I want you to imagine what it is like to feel the seams of your socks, the label on your clothes, the flicker of fluorescent lights, the mumblings and rumblings of every noise around you, and then try to learn new things.
Overwhelming.
Yes, that is what it is often for me.
My mom’s drinking ripped away who I was to be and helped create who I am today and what I am able to be. If she had known how it would change my life I bet she would have made a different choice. But she didn’t, and we can’t change how things are. I am as I am. I can’t even talk to her about it. She’s dead. I was a foster baby and then adopted.

I had to fail first in order to succeed.
And I failed over,
and over,
and over again.

I am just one of hundreds of thousands of people whose lives are affect each year by alcohol consumption before breathing your first breath of air. For those of you who were not pickled before birth, who believe you are wiser than I am, I ask you to take my thoughts and use your brains to make a difference.