You have entered the Spectrum Zone

Archive for August, 2012

Visual cards help FASD people learn

  Change in routine
Many people with FASD and autism have a hard time understanding abstract and life’s cues. WE also have a very hard time communicating. These helps are awesome!! Click on the link and there are many more! http://elearning.autism.net/visuals/main.php?g2_itemId=524&g2_page=2

Executive function

Advertisements

New routines

I have been hearing a lot about FASD kids going back to school and adjusting. I just read a post on an FASD teen going off to school and the major adjustments she is having to make cuz of all the change. She wrote,…


I know for me, whenever I experience an extreme change; I get uneasy and it will take me a couple weeks to adjust to a new routine. In overload mode, I crash and hard. Its the overload of new people, new expectations etc.

I just started a new job. As an adult with FASD, I can say the feelings of overload are just as much there now as they were as a kid. I don’t think the feelings and overload are any different. The only difference is how I deal with it differently. this week was one of my hardest weeks in a very long time. My routine was different. Everyone around me during the day was new. People I dont know at all and I don’t trust. Even if they told me they are really amazing people and I should trust them, it will take some time. Being FASD, you need people around you who you can look to as external brains. I constantly rely on others around me. I look to them to tell me what I need to do. I judge their actions and facial expressions to let me know if something is unsafe or ok. I have the inability to judge understand a lot around me. It is crucial that I trust the people in the room who are guiding me for that moment.

Change is a scary thing. Change alone can make stress go up so much for us that we can fight overload immediately. I spent the week in a new job and then spent the weekend totally consumed in busy. My skin has been hurting so much the last day, I could cry. I start work again tomorrow and it will be completely busy all week again. I know that my down time needs to be absolutely priority for this next week or I will hit a wall.
Today I was out and I was talking with someone and I did just that. My entire body had like this what I call short circuit in the brain. It is literally from too much overload on my body. My mouth just stopped and my entire being just stopped for a few moments. it was so hard for me to come out of it. Normally, I would just go off and recover from that, but I couldnt. I took about 20 minutes before I said anything to the people I was with and then I gradually came out of it. When that happens, I know that I have pushed it beyond my limit.
Staying quiet and being completely focused on what I need to do to not take overload into a meltdown is crucial for the next week. Fortunately, I love the new job. I am currently organizing the office and for me, organizing is a calm.
New environments. New people. New assignments. Trying to understand the new around us. Trying to figure out what we are supposed to do next or even first. Trying to figure out how to execute in a new place outside of our routine…All very very tough. 
For those caregivers, I feel for you. Patience is the best gift you could give all of us. Let your FASD person do what they need to in order to calm. Anything repetition that works for them would be good. Someone told me today that a person they new who had autism just would comb and comb her hair and it was calming for them. I know for me sometimes it is writing or a bath. Also, leave more room for error. Frustration is already up and when that happens, there is more chance for misunderstanding cues and knowing what to do. As we settle and new routines become just a normal routine…we will be good…But it takes time.

Bad nights and nightmares

Nights are the worst for me. I don’t know why, but I can have night terrors to the point where I am so confused I don’t even know where I am or what’s going on. It takes me awhile to even be able to speak after I wake up in the morning, at times, because I’m so confused.

I still wake up in a ball and feel like I’m five years old. I don’t even know what reality is sometimes. I cannot say that all with FASD have this, but I have talked to enough people to know, that nights are pretty rough for quite a few of us.

Processing is so hard for us and nightmares in the middle of the night are absolutely harder to process. I would almost say it is a disability all on its own.

Weighted blankets help calm.
Water calms.
An animal calms.

BUT

This can be a very scary time, I would think especially for kids with FASD. For those who can…stay close and help process and help to wipe away that confusion. Help bring them back to now and reality and let them know they are okay and safe. It happens to me as an adult. But I have had several FASD people and/or their caregivers share with me that nightmares, confusion and disturbed sleep are very common.

It does not apply to all. I have some tell me that they sleep great! I would love to know more about this if anyone has research or anything on this, it would be great.

What I do know is, if you have an FASD kid and they are having rough nights. It’s real. Let them talk to you and help to calm and reassure. Stay with them until they fall asleep if you can.

I resemble this remark!

LOVE! LOVE! LOVE!! This is perfect!! I cannot tell you how this fits us FASD folks! I could work all day and not be bothered by the talks and gossips of others. I just want to stay focused and do my work. People gossip, which I have never been one to be bothered with gossip. Nor do I think its right. There is so much more positive things to do in the world than talk negatively about others and spread rumors. I know socializing is important…but, I would rather do the work assigned than socialize. I love being productive! In fact, when I’m not, I feel lost, I feel sad, I feel stuck! Just give me something to do and I’ll do it till its done! Temple Grandin is such a great representative of those with neuro disabilities! She has accomplished and overcome so much in her lifetime! I had to post this quote because I sooooo relate to it. I was the photographer for a kid’s cancer camp in July. I worked the entire week and just stay focused. I had objectives. To take pictures and to put them together for the camp and a slideshow for the parents at the end of camp. I probably worked 12 hour days easily for 6 days straight. it was hard for me to take a break. I just wanted to do the task and not be bothered…lol. I’m that way with every job I have. I would just rather work than talk…lol…
FASD individuals can be very productive individuals. The one thing that makes me so upset is the constant negative that is out there! There is soooo much good about us and you would find if we are kept productive, there is less chance of problems. I know for me, I want what everyone else wants. Love, acceptance, and to be a productive, positive citizen. I love helping others. I love connection. Yes I do! I love doing! Not doing is idle time… Just like my blog the other day, having structure with lots to do makes for a healthy, happy Ann.

Left eye Right eye

When I was five years old, the neurologist said I had no depth perception and my eyes do not converge. In other words, my left eye and right eye, do not work together. I have learned that my left brain and right brain do not work very well together either.

I was told that I would never be able to hit a ball. I hit home runs. 
I was told I would never be able to cut on the line. it took a lot of work, but I have no problem at all with that anymore.
True I still reach for the refrigerator and miss the handle…every time…lol.
BUT, for the most part, my brain has adapted. 
My left eye and right eye have never been able to work together, but my brain has compensated in a way that I don’t think anyone figured in. My left eye basically stopped working. I can see out of it, but my brain has shut my left eye off enough for me to see one of everything. This has allowed me to do things I never could have done. 
I was not able to read until like second grade. The words were all jumbled together. All I saw was lines of letters with no breaks between words. There was no making sense of it to me. Now, I read fine. I still have problems with comprehension, but I learned young how make up for this. I read into a tape recorder and listened to it until I understood.
Yes, we have disabilities…but yes there are ways to make up for them. 
We just find different ways to do the same thing others can do.
God gave us creativity!
God gave us determination!
We figure out ways to learn, retain, and comprehend…to the best that we can!
That’s awesome! 

Structure brings productivity in FASD individuals

I have learned something huge lately, I am no good without structure! I absolutely do amazing if I just have structure. I would work all day on a project and not even want to take a lunch. Lunch to me, is unstructured time. I can eat through lunch, but why stop. When I stop, I feel like I don’t know what to do. You would think eating would be what I do, but I sit there trying to figure out something else to do. I either get on the computer or put a puzzle together. I can’t just sit and watch a T.V. show. I am not good at downtime at all!!! I will work all day until I paint an entire room. I will work until a project is done even if it takes days. I will stop to sleep, etc. but I get right up and busy. I love it!

Structure makes me feel healthy and vibrant and keeps my brain focused. The second I have to come up with something to do. I’m done. Give me a list and I’m great. Tell me to find something to do and I will be the most ADD you will ever see. I will hop from thing to thing to thing and get nothing accomplished. Oh, I will stay busy, but I will forever be lost.

I just started a new job today. I am not good with anything new, but this went well. It actually fit me perfectly! I just did things that were given me and I could do that all day. If my job is to make someone else’s life easier and they just keep giving me lists of things to do–I’m good! I’m great! I thought about just going to a store and stocking shelves all day cuz I know the time would go fast and I would probably be the most focused one there and not even wanting to take a lunch. Organizing and stacking and building something like Lego’s is the kind of busy work that I love. I also love doing things on the computer like blogging.

If I am left to my own, I seriously could tell you I was busy the entire day, but I have no idea what I got done and I leave my day frustrated!

Structure is so important to me living with FASD. I am not lazy! I am not unmotivated! I just dont know what to do when. I have lots of ideas, but I’m not good at executing. BUT tell me exactly what to do–and I’ll work the entire day until its done! AND I’ll be happy! AND I wont be frustrated! AND I won’t get into trouble and look in areas where I could get in trouble…lol.

I seriously could work the entire day and not even feel like it was 12 hours. The time just goes so fast cuz my brain is just so into what I’m doing that I dont even know that several hours went by. Give me those same hours with no structure and with me as the pilot of my day…lol….I’m in trouble!

I guarantee if you give someone with FAS a list of things to do, they will get it done and do their best.

I know there are things on this job I’m going to run into that I don’t know what I’m doing. I said to myself, I might not be able to, but I will do my best and my best is all I can give.

Structure is key to a happy FASD person! AND happy FASD caregivers and external brains!

Dear Teacher

Dear Teacher,
I have FASD. I have a hard time hearing everything you say. I try, but sometimes I just don’t understand. It’s hard for me to understand the directions you say. Lot’s of times I forget as soon as you say what I’m supposed to do. I look at others, not cuz I want to cheat, but cuz I want to know what I’m supposed to do next. I know it seems like I’m not paying attention, but I just don’t understand.

I’m not lazy. It seems like I dont want to do my work, but I do. I’m just not sure how to do it. If you tell me exactly what I’m supposed to do a couple of times, I might understand better. You might have to explain it to me with no one else around.

My senses are really sensitive. Sometimes I need breaks from the classroom. Sometimes, I need my own time out from the chaos in the room. It’s hard for me to process all that goes on.

FASD is fetal alcohol syndrome. It just means that my mom drank when I was in her belly. It doesnt mean I’m less than the other kids in the class. I am still very creative and very fun. I love to learn and I love to work. I will always give you my best. I promise and I keep my promises.

FASD means that my brain is not like the other kids. It is wired a little differently and I have to find my way of learning. I have to learn how to learn. Work with me cuz I’m trying to figure out what works for me. If you do it with me and stay patient with me I won’t get as frustrated. Let me know how proud you are of me that I’m working so hard even if I don’t understand and constantly focus on what I’m doing right. Oh, you can tell me what I’m doing wrong or what I’m not understanding, but remind me that I’m still a great kid even if I did something wrong.

See, I’m extra sensitive. My brain just has a hard time understanding so I get so confused with what you are saying or what you are expecting that the harder I try, sometimes my brain just shuts off. And if you get frustrated with me, I think I’m doing something wrong when I’m really trying to give you my best. Do you know what it feels like when people are upset with you and you don’t understand why? You are doing everything you think they want you to do but you are still doing it wrong?

I cry a lot inside. I want to be my best for you and for my parents. I want everyone to be proud of me.

It’s okay to make me an IEP. Call FAS what it is. It only hurts me if you don’t. If I get the right diagnosis, then I get the right helps.

It’s okay that I have this thing called FASD. I can’t change it. It is what it is. Just please don’t make me feel different. Don’t make me feel like what my mom did was so wrong that I feel bad about who I am. Don’t make her actions be who I am.

Thank you,

Your student