We can all agree that reading success stories is nothing less than awesome! Real life stories about other FASD families, caregivers and FASD persons can provide us with that little bit of hope that we need to get through the day or to add some new perspective to a situation at home or school that you are dealing with.
The success stories that you will read about on these next few pages are from Caregivers and families all over the world who share many of the same challenges and battles, but they also share all the amazing little A-Ha! moments and celebrations, but mostly importantly, these stories are from families just like yours.
Enjoy the read!
We are from a town in Nova Scota with about 10,000 people living in it. Our town had our first FASD awareness day this Sept. 9th. I’m proud to say that our local family resource center asked me to be the parent on their FASD Awareness Committee.
Our Riley is now 11 almost 12 yrs old. We became foster parents to Riley & his younger brother when he was only six months and Riley was two and a half. There were many delays in the boys (the younger brother was still not walking and still sleeping many, many hours during the day). We were very fortunate to have become a forever family in Oct. 2007! Yay, Us! We went from an only child to having three boys with an eleven year age difference.
As most caregivers of FASD children, there has been struggle all along the way… the last two years have been really challenging with Riley. He did well in school up until grade four then everything stopped. He has pretty much sat in class for the last two now going on three years, not doing a lot of anything in class, but with behaviors of hitting, cursing and high anxiety.
The last two years we have very seldom been able to touch or hug or comfort our boy…having to ask most times to touch him and the majority of the time being told, “NO”. No one could walk in or by his personal space, which was about a ten foot area all around him. He has been very hard on his little brother with words that hurt and with hands.
I am THRILLED to tell you that since the Spring he had started shaking hands with our church family and announces to me that he feels so much better having touched them and speaking to them (he used to kneel on the floor for the whole service hoping no one would notice him).
We can now HUG Riley, touch Riley on most days without having to ask and he does NOT blow up when we or others do approach him! YAY RILEY! His anxiety is starting to minimize and he has come up HIMSELF with a couple of different ways to help himself! He asked to go to the after school program a couple of days a week so he could get his anxiety out before coming home to us! He also decided that the hot tub helps him relax, so he asked if we could start going to the YMCA more so he could use the hot tub! I am sooooooo PROUD of how RILEY himself has come up with these ideas on his own!
There is absolutely nothing like seeing our boy grow into himself and help try to help himself. Our family is so blessed (even with the stress, exhaustion and everyday battles) these successes are what makes you embrace and realize why our kids are so AWESOME!!!
Thanks for taking the time to read a bit of our story.
P.S. The picture is of Riley (the taller one) and Braden on the first day of school this year – Grade five and six. Woo Hoo!
DJ was the most beautiful toddler and he had such a charming personality and joie de vivre. It seemed that he learned so quickly, yet it was obvious that he could never catch up with his peers. It was not until he was almost 6 years old that we got an FAS diagnosis, which was devastating to us and was enough to send me into total clinical depression for a time.
Well, with all of the professionals we had employed to help us help him, DJ had a tremendous scaffold supporting him that allowed him to hang in there academically in kindergarten (Christian school) and first grade (public school). By 2nd grade, it was obvious to everyone, including DJ, that he was floundering across the board. In the middle of 3rd grade, (specialty school) DJ’s anxieties escalated to a degree that I gave up my career as a Speech-Language Pathologist to homeschool him. Although I struggled with my decision to pour myself into a child for whom college seemed unattainable, God really affirmed that THIS was my calling.
DJ is now 15 years old. Because of Lindamood-Bell’s programs DJ speaks clearly (with occasional reminders) and he can read on grade level. DJ carries his copy of “What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety” to remind him of strategies to manages his anxieties. He also carries an iPod to be able to listen to music that calms him and there are a few shows/movies on there for when he has a bad dream or cannot sleep at night. At the age of 10, DJ earned a black belt through Yong-In University in Tae Kwon Do. The confidence he gained through this sport has helped DJ overcome his fears…most recently using public toilets.
DJ has had some incredible successes competing against neurotypical peers. When he was 6, DJ won 3rd place at the regional level in a public school art contest. At age 8, DJ placed 2nd in Form and 1st in Board Breaking at a regional TKD competition. When he was 9, DJ beat out a black belt for 1st place in form. At 11, DJ won 2nd place at Virginia Air and Space Museum’s Egg Drop Contest. And this past season, DJ not only earned a baseball award for most improved player, but he also batted .500, which was the best batting average on his team. At 14, my husband and I finally agreed to allow DJ to start studying dance. After one year, DJ is already dancing with girls who have studied ballet for 8-10 years.
Although DJ does feel different from his peers, struggles to fit in socially and with separation anxiety, and is significantly math-challenged, he is continuing to make gains in these areas. DJ is quickly endeared to all adults…especially senior citizens. He is learning to accept himself for who God made him to be. 6 months ago, DJ initiated staying all night at a youth lock-in and he really enjoyed it! DJ often carries a 3rd grade Singapore math text or Life of Fred math book with him to work on in his spare time because he wants to be a pilot one day. I love how that DJ has not allowed his math deficits to deter him from his desire to learn to fly an airplane!
We are still happily homeschooling and always will. DJ goes to weekly co-op classes where I teach and is holding his own in classes like Writer’s Workshop, Geography Geniuses, Guitar, Flute, and Latin and Greek Roots. DJ hopes to get a job at Chick-fil-A when he turns 16. And because DJ is great with foreign accents, he hopes that one day I will move with him to England. Best of all is the realization that DJ may actually be able to one day attend a community college or technical school. Whether or not he can earn a degree or a pilot’s license is yet to be determined.
Thanks for letting me share about our son (for whom DJ is his initials).
His proud and ever-loving Mama!