09 September 2017


Raising awareness, increasing support

My middle child is three, almost four.

She just started her second year of preschool, and her third year of speech therapy (given the fact she will talk to you for ask long as you'll listen, and her impressive use of adverbs, you might not guess she had a severe language delay).

Her classroom is already filled with friends- old ones from last year and new ones she's just met. It's not in her nature to let classmates be acquaintances. Everyone is her good friend, and she packs her backpack with cards and pictures she's drawn to pass out to them weekly. She taught herself to sign her name on her own.

Her latest hobby is puppet making- meticulously sticking eyes and wings to old socks and brown paper sacks then hiding behind the sofa and putting on a show for her siblings.

She's delightful, to say the least.

She's determined. She knows what she wants out of life and she goes for it with everything she has. She asks questions about everything, and she loves to learn.

At three, she doesn't yet understand what alcohol is.

But she does know what it feels like to not be able to calm herself down when she gets upset, and sometimes for no reason at all.

She knows what it feels like to suddenly forget something she knows and has done a hundred times before.

She knows that sometimes she needs tight socks and a heavy blanket, and that sometimes we need to step away from the crowd so she can hold onto my hands and kick her legs over her head, hanging there until she feels better from the tension.

She has no idea what alcohol is, and she can't yet comprehend that her exposure to it prenatally is the cause of much of her frustrations- her speech delay, sensory processing, and affected memory.

But it is.

And she's not alone.

It's estimated that 10 in 1,000 babies born will have FASD, making it one of the most prevalent birth defects. The odds are good that you know someone affected, whether they have an official diagnosis, or only know they struggle with many of the clinical effects.

It is one hundred percent preventable.

One hundred percent.

There is no safe amount of alcohol that can be consumed while pregnant.

There is no safe time frame during pregnancy in which to drink.

There is no type of alcohol that is safer than another.

Please, don't risk it.

No child, no person, deserves to struggle needlessly.

And for those who are struggling with something you can't see?

See them.

See that their behavior is something more than just acting up.

See that while they do have needs that must be met differently, their needs are just a part of them. They are not defined by their delays, or disorders, or diagnosis.

See them.

Accept them.

Love them.

You can read more about FASD and the prevention of it, along with other resources for those with FASD, parenting a child with FASD, or those who are pregnant and drinking here.

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