A Million reasons you can have success with FAS(D)

In the arena of Fetal Alcohol there are tons of horror stories of people living with an FASD who have many unsuccessful school experiences.

Based on a secondary disability study published by Dr. Anne Streissguth and adapted by Teresa Kellerman, it states “Disrupted School Experience (suspension or expulsion or drop out), was experienced by 43% of children of school age. By the time students with FAE reach adulthood, the rate of disrupted school experience peaks at 70%. Common school problems include: not paying attention; incomplete homework; can’t get along with peers; disruptive in class; disobeying school rules; talking back to the teacher; fighting; and truancy.”

To say the least school is a huge issue for this population, so anytime I can share an example of someone doing well, I’m going to make sure I do so!

So, without further ado let me introduce you to Crystal Millions. Crystal lives on the Fetal Alcohol spectrum and is currently attending university on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I chatted with Crystal to learn a little more about her
journey growing up with Fetal Alcohol and a lot about what she is doing and what kind of supports does she receive to make this awesomeness happen…
So, enjoy!

After I finished talking with Crystal, I felt hopeful and I hope you do too. Having
Fetal Alcohol is not a death sentence and Crystal is proof of that. So, use this as
a reminder of what can happen if you stay patient with your loved on (or client) living with Fetal Alcohol.

Call to Action:
Do you know someone living with Fetal Alcohol who is having success in school?
Let me know in the comments below.

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19 comments

  1. Thanks Jeff – Tweeted and sharing. Stories like this are definitely what we need to hear as children living with the daily challenges and as adults, teachers, parents and administrators. Love it.

    • Hi Jeff,
      As a parent of 3 children with FASD and a Spec Ed teacher, I am really aware of what FASD is. Thankfully, I understand the school system and know how to advocate strongly. All three children are loving school, on pace to graduate, and know what they want to do next. I’ve started sharing my experience with others through my blog http://www.giveusmorespecialneeds.blogspot.ca and my colleague Karen Konrad and I are speaking at the FASD symposium in Ottawa March 31 and April 1 on FASD and IEP’s. Keep up the good work and these great stories!

  2. Literally crying watching this because when you are being screamed at for the 400th time in a week by your 11-year-old who has FASD and is totally flipping out but unable to express why she’s having a hard week, it’s damn hard to see past all that. Thank god there are success stories. They give us all hope that we can get there.

    • Hey Paula,

      if it makes you feel better Im pretty sure I drove my parents up the wall. However though fasd is forever I found growing up my maturity helped the crazy flip outs. THERE IS HOPE!

    • Hi I was born with FAS,61 years ago as my birth mom drank during her pregnancy.She also contracted German Measles during this time as well.I was born 2 months premature & I was breech,I weighed 3lbs 14ozs.12″ long(length of a ruler)I had a hole in my heart.My birth parents were told I wouldn’t live past age 3 months,but I did when I was 9 months old I got pnuemonia which caused more birth defects for me . My mother gave me & my brother up because she had a new life and she didn’t want us around especially me…I was ineligible for adoption therefore I was placed in foster care..I was 22 months old 17lbs when I went to live in a foster home.I never left the home because they wanted to take me with them when they moved.My foster parents were good but they didn’t understand me..They were modern Mennonites (had hydro,heat etc).I went by their last name til I was 16 years old.I wasn’t accepted by kids in my hometown or school.I was teased,taunted,bullied,laugh at pushed around but my foster parents didn’t really understand..I was called a chronic liar by my foster mom and that hurt deeply.The school board told my parents that I was school material and that they should keep me at home,but they trudged forward and kept me in school.I had nasty temper tantrums ..I blew up at the least littlest thing and I would pick up anything I could my hands on and throw it.By the time I was 16 my parents couldn’t handle my temper tantrums because they were so our of control. therefore making the decision to have
      a put into an institution.I spent 7 1/2 years out of my life in two institutions.It took me years to finally get my temper under control.After the institutions I had 3 failed marriages..Had a daughter that CAS took from me because they said I would hurt her which was why they took her.I am 61 years old.I can relate to your daughter’s anguish and her frustrations..I know how she feels.I know it is frustrating for you as a parent trying to talk to her to find out what is bothering her .It isnt easy..When she is calm ask her these questions
      1)she is being teased taunted bullied etc at school…Give her time to come to you when she feels the need to talk.If she doesn’t communicate at that time let her cool down then gently knock on her bedroom door and see if she wanting to talk…I would be more than willing to be her penpal.Please feel free to write down my email address so that she can email me anytime.

  3. What a wonderful success story of one who has FASD. I’m so glad she had the support she needed to get where she is.
    Unfortunately my son is not one of the success stories!! He is in Grade 9, but reads at about a Grade 1/2 level and his writing skills are even lower than that. He struggles in school in so many ways besides academics. He misinterprets what others say when they pass him in the hallways, and “always” feels their comments are directed towards him. (when actually they are just kidding around with each other) We are hoping that high school in Sept. will be a great improvement. There will be more opportunities for him, hopefully the students will be more accepting as they mature.

    Middle School has definitely not been good for someone with FASD. They struggle to fit into anything!!

    • Hey Judy!

      so Im not a doctor or anything but growing up with FASD i found that being behind is very common. I feel like with maturity and maybe extra time spent practicing your sons weaknesses will help and im sure will help confidence too. As i said in the video i spent hours taking extra time to aid my school issues and though it was hard it was the best decision i ever made. just give him something to strive for for his hard work and it helps keep you motivated because sometimes getting better grades doesnt seem like that great of an objective. i strove for university and a new life not just passing math

      hope it helps!

      • ps he may not seem like the success story yet, but the only way to strive to sucess is to work from somewhere. dont underestimate him just yet 🙂

    • Hi Judy
      Firstly I just want to commend you on looking for support and say your not alone. My daughter Crystal struggled in math, social, and science but one thing that we found helpful was to provide her with tips and tricks to help her be successful. One night I found myself writing her notes for science, putting them in point form then drawing small pictures that she could relate to, then colour coding them. It was a lot of work but she then had a hard copy example. I also was consistently telling her to take notes or use your phone and record the teacher if she couldn’t keep up. Review, review review. Although your child only reads at a grade 1/2 he shouldn’t give up nor should you. I know you have tried everything that you can think of, but this might work. Get a book that he or she is interested in and you read a sentence then he/ she reads a sentence, better yet use the course material that day from school. Another tip that I have learnt is to be your kids advocate then make them be an advocate for their education. remember its like the movie Groundhog Day.

  4. Thank you for sharing this Jeff!
    Congratulations to Crystal for her success with her schooling, she is a very bright young women.
    I hope my son may one day be a success as well, I’m not feeling very confident however with his many many struggles.

  5. Beautiful interview with Cryatal, this gives us hope for our children in the future, so many struggles at the moment.

  6. I loved the video and I can’t wait for my daughter to watch it. School can be so tough. My daughter has struggled all the way through but she is determined. She just wrote her last diploma examine yesterday and I couldn’t be prouder of her. Through her spunky attitude she has achieved so much. For her to be successful she opted for doing high school through cyber school. When she decided to go this route she told me mom I will never make it in high school there is just too much going on and I know I will give in to temptation. She has great insight! So we decided let’s give it a try. The flexibility was great for her. The days when she wasn’t ” feeling it” we knew it wasn’t the day to do school work. Luckily she is an accomplished horse back rider and loves the piano; she would just spend the day doing those things. We often talk about her future and who she. As she says I am not going to be a bad statistic I will prove to everyone that just because I have FASD and ADHD I can be successful. She knows her future isn’t sitting at a desk job or doing the same thing for hours on end as she said her mind will explode. Horses are her passion and she and an older sister doing a therapeutic riding program where most of their students are effected by alcohol. Who better than her to teach and understand. I am a proud mom!!

  7. Thank you for the video, It gives one hope for these children Thank you for all your hard work and kindness. Keep Smiling Kelly Groom

  8. Thank you for the wonderful interview. Gives me hope for a successful future for my 16 yo daughter. Crystal, thank you for sharing your story!!!!

  9. Thank you all for your kind words and comments. My heart is filled with so much gratitude and Im trying my best not to tear up at how well this video turned out. Much love to all the people who took the time to watch. I cant believe i went from writing a fasd kids book for a project to this. So so stoked 🙂

  10. Thank you so much for this video. Our daughter is 8 years old and listening to this gave me hope for her. Crystal, what you said about emotional reactions and the things that triggered them sound like what I see for her. I am going to show this video to her teachers so they can understand some of what her life is like. I would love to see the book you wrote.

  11. Crystal you have come so far and are so self aware. With continued determination and growth I have no doubt you will go on to doing amazing things…you already are 🙂 . I am grateful for you each and everyday. Great work my girl. Love Mom P.S great talk <3


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