FASD from a father's point of view
May 03, 2018
The call went out for people to speak to their experiences about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or FASD and I thought it would be nice to add the perspective from a Dad on the subject: So here I am.
Who am I? I suppose it would be a good idea to share where I'm coming from and what experience I have thus far.
You see, we have a son who has FASD and for the past decade my wife and I have been on a journey of discovery, frustration, and overall understanding of what FASD is, and how we can assist in our son's development.
To protect the not-so-innocent, I will call our kid Eddie, because he's a brat, a good brat, a teenage brat, but a brat, as all kids tend to be at his age. His diagnosis puts him in the mild to medium range of ‘Effect on the Spectrum’, so we do get some interesting issues that crop up from time to time.
At this point, if you've never heard of this disorder you're probably saying “Wait! Wait a sec, what is FASD?” So let me take a moment and describe it so you can understand.
To put it simply, FASD is the brain impacted by alcohol exposure during pregnancy. Being a bit of a geek I'll put this in computer terms.
There are two basic things you need to run a computer: Hardware, like the phone or laptop that you are presently using to view this blog, and software. The insubstantial thingy that runs said hardware so you can check Facebook or do your shopping, or play Candy Crush.
FASD is simply the hardware that your child uses and it has a permanent glitch or a broken section that can't be replaced. It still runs, just not in a way you’d want or expect.
In order to patch the damage, you use a program, aka software, to work around the glitch so it can run smoother, and just like any program, you need regular updates to deal with new problems as you go along. Straightforward, right?
Well, this is a simple explanation for a much more complicated issue, but you need to start somewhere on your journey of understanding.
The next thing you need to do is accept the following:
You can't fix this. No matter how much to wish to, this is something you and your child will have to deal with for the rest of your lives. Accept this.
They are going to need your help. Like any long-term issue, your child won't be able to handle this alone and moreover, you're going to have to help them for a lot longer than you anticipate. Understand this.
This is your new normal. Normal for you has changed its definition; your everyday will not be like Joe Smith down the lane. Know this.
You are not alone. Before you give up, don't! There are others outside your door right now on the same journey you are, and they are either right in front or behind you, so take a breath and release it slowly. Trust this.
It's OK to be scared. I was and still am some days. This is normal when dealing with something new and confusing. Be patient.
So how about some good news? You look like you'd need some about now. Ready?
Good news is there are some fabulous people and organizations waiting to help you, and some very knowledgeable people who can help guide you on your journey.
Jeff Noble is one, here is a link to his FB page if you haven't already found him. The man has knowledge and has a willingness to share it.
The next is where you are now (Wood's Homes). They can help you connect with other parents, organizations, and people who have been or are in your shoes. Send a missive and you'll get assistance.
Finally, understand that you got this! You do!
I can promise you that your journey will be difficult at times, you will make mistakes and survive, and you'll never be the same. You'll be better. Believe this.
My next blog will be more about my experiences as a Dad of FASD and less preachy. I just needed you to understand that you are now on a journey, and that I am here to share my experiences with you so you may be able to better handle what's going to come next.
Until then, allow yourself a smile, and know you're not alone.
Take care, and be well.