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.