Friday, May 1, 2015

10 Things I Learned from Raising a Son with FASD (but didn't know until I wrote a book)

I had the wonderful opportunity on March 28 of being the Keynote Speaker at a conference in Toronto for caregivers of children with FASD sponsored by FASD ONE (Ontario Network of Expertise). and beautifully organized by Sharron Richards and her team.

The invitation to deliver the speech was based on the publication of  my new book, Not Exactly As Planned: A Memoir of Adoption, Secrets and Abiding Love.

Parents, other caregivers, individuals living with FASD and a smattering of professionals came together at the Children's Aid Society (CAS) of Toronto to share our knowledge and first-hand experience of raising and working with children with FASD. In addition, several presenters gave us the opportunity to gain insight and understanding of their own experience of  living with FASD.

Like many other parents struggling to raise their children, I was unaware of how much I had learned over the years from my experience.  More often than not, I didn't know what I was doing. What did I know about raising a child with FASD?

But while writing my book, I realized how much I really did know about raising a child with special needs.  I learned the hard way – on the job – like the rest of us.

So when it came time to write my speech, I just looked back over the 27 years we have been raising our son, and a ton of lessons-learned came flowing back to me.

I won't go into detail here about any one of these lessons-learned, but I will get you the overview 10 points I discussed at the conference.

While giving the speech, I felt reassured that I was in a roomful of caregivers who understood what I was saying. I watched heads nod in agreement as I moved from talking about one point to the next.

 The Ten Things I Learned While Raising my Son with FASD: 

  1. More often than not, I didn’t know what I was doing.
  I was learning on the job.
  2.  I needed to protect myself from people who judge me or my child.
  3. I often felt guilty about some of the negative feelings I was carrying around (particularly regarding the people who were judging me). 
  4. I needed to seek out other caregivers who shared similar struggles and sensibilities.

  5. No one loved our child as much as my husband and I did (and understanding this has major implications regarding the need for advocacy). 

  6. Mums get a bad rap.
  (Dads don't get blamed as much as mums).
  7. Raising children with disabilities is hard on marriages.

  8. I never stopped being overjoyed by even the smallest thing when it came to my son’s accomplishments.

  9. I couldn't  fix everything in my son's life. The best I could do was learn to accept the reality of "what is."

  10. There is always reason for hope. Even when there doesn’t seem to be any reason for hope, there is reason for hope

    Where to purchase Not Exactly As Planned