Support, Not Stigma

Awareness and stigma are mutually exclusive. True awareness stomps out stigma. Awareness of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) involves education, empathy, and support for every person dealing with FASD in their lives, including mothers of children with FASD. Stigma towards women who consumed alcohol while pregnant only shames, stereotypes, and ultimately does not help individuals and families dealing with FASD.

support not stigma

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5 Reasons FASD is Invisible (and 3 ways to Change That)

Quick! What is the leading cause of intellectual disabilities (mental retardation) in the United States?

A. Down Syndrome
B. Autism Spectrum Disorder
C. Microcephaly caused by the Zika Virus
D. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Continue reading “5 Reasons FASD is Invisible (and 3 ways to Change That)”

International FASD Awareness Day

Today, September 9th, is International FASD Awareness Day!

What is FASD? See this post about fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).

Consider taking a few moments today to talk to someone with FASD and find out how it affects his or her life.

You can also hear people explain what FASD means to them in the following resources:

Jasmine; a young woman living with FASD (Video)

Rebecca; a mom with FASD (Interview Article)

Four young adults with FASD (Video)

3 People Who Need You to Be Aware

Is a whole month dedicated to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) awareness really necessary? There are so many “awareness” months already for things like breast cancer, autism, and Down syndrome. Many people know of autism or can think of someone in their lives affected by cancer, but not FASD.

However, FASD is the leading known cause of intellectual disabilities in the United States. An estimated 40,000 babies a year are born with effects of prenatal alcohol exposure. FASD affects more people than Down Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy, and Spina Bifida combined.

Chances are, there are people in our lives right now who are affected by FASD. These people need us to be informed. The more we are aware, the better friends, neighbors, and community members we can be.

3PeopleWhoNeedYoutoBeAware

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FASD: What Everyone Should Know

Okay, raise your hand if you know what FASD stands for. (If your hand was down, this post is for you!)

FASD_Month_no_national

September is FASD awareness month and to kick it off this post will give you the basics that everyone should know about FASD.

FASD stands for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. FASD is an umbrella term for multiple disorders caused by exposure to alcohol before birth. The effects of being exposed to alcohol prenatally are wide-ranging and permanent. While there is no cure, FASD is preventable.

Continue reading “FASD: What Everyone Should Know”

Book Memories

Memories have a way of finding me suddenly, off-guard, and all at once.

Like a free children’s book that arrives in the mail one day, reminding me of little girls who used to live with my family.

The book was one of their favorites. They would ask me to read it to them over and over and over and over and over and over…

I got pretty good at using different voices while reading in order to make it interesting (for myself). They never got tired of the book. Even when I picked out other books to read, one of the girls would go find that book to add to the pile.

When I read the book, the older girl would “read” it along with me. Her little voice would mumble along until we got to the repeated “No!” parts, which she would pronounce loud and clear. She knew if I skipped over any parts and would remind me to read everything on the page.

I made sure she had her own copy of the book when she left our foster home. It put a smile on my face knowing that she would have her favorite book at her new home. Hopefully, it put a smile on her face too.

And hopefully her mother can forgive me for including a book that she has had to read over and over and over again!

Book Memories

Not Grieving in Words

A coupon for 20% off a certain brand of lotion has been pinned to the wall above my desk. I just pulled it down to check when it expires.

The coupon expired January 31, 2016.

My desk has been in a similar state of neglect. Under textbooks, scattered post-it notes, three mechanical pencils I have been looking for, and receipts (some from Wal-Mart, others from the library), I found a picture of two little girls I dearly love. Their faces poke out from a blanket as they smile, together. One of the little girls is now my sister. The other…I miss.

NotGrievingInWordsPic

 

I do not mean to throw a pity party. After all, she is doing well. Her mother is working hard and loves her. My family even gets pictures from them occasionally, so I can see that the little girl still has the same self-assured smile.

Back when she was leaving our foster home, I wanted to hold on to the memories I had of her. I wanted to spend time writing down stories so her little quirks and personality would remain vivid in my mind. It is something I wish I had done more with previous foster children. When she left, I tried to make time to write down special memories.

Here I am a year later. I wrote down a total of one story, about the first day she came. I have not written anymore. Sometimes I did not write because the memories were painful to relive. Other times I could not write because other children had come to our home. Then again, I was also busy with a new job and college and all those other things in life. I was too busy to grieve or write.

Now as I seek out memories of her, the stories are faded. The details are fuzzy, and many whole scenes are missing. It seems that during this un-grieving year, I have lost my memories of her. My mind silently let the stories slip away. My heart grew numb to the thought that she will never be a part of my life again. My life has rearranged itself to go on without her.

Then I see the picture on my desk. The image of her peaceful smile challenges that line of thinking. In an instant, the memory is brought back to life. The mental dust is shaken off, and I remember the scene:

The summer sun drifting in and out of the clouds, its afternoon beams warming the room…
The girls, with dozens of stuffed animals and baby dolls heaped in piles all around them…
Their giggles, one clear and the other muffled by a pacifier…
Both of them lying down, their feet in opposite directions, but their heads right next to each other…

The memory is all there. It has not been lost, even if I had never written it down. The picture reminds me that it is okay. Remembering can be done in many ways.

Maybe a picture really is worth a thousand words. Maybe I did grieve this year, in a different way.

Now I think I am ready to get back to writing.