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How do I say this? Yesterday pretty much knocked the wind out of me. I can do two things with it. Either I can let all that the neuropsych guy said and let it take me down for the count or I can continue to do what Ive always done and let it empower me even more. I prefer to let it empower me. He even said “hats off to me with all I have accomplished.” I have proven even more to myself that most people would not have accomplished all I have with my brain. I just never saw that ‘not’ doing it was an option. When they told me I would not graduate high school. I just said watch me get a masters degree. When they told me I would never hit a ball. I said i will practice until I get homeruns. I could go on and on. I have always found a way to compensate. If I cannot do it this way, I will find another way. I am one determined mother ______. if I can say that. I am having a little bit of a hard time today. I never expected him to say a couple of the things he said. Trying to process.

I looked up where my IQ falls. It basically described me to a tea. I was surprised. This is what the definition of it said under the IQ I just found out I have. Above the threshold for normal independent functioning. Can perform explicit routinized hands-on tasks without supervision as long as there are no moments of choice and it is always clear what has to be done. Assembler, food service.

I know that as long as my day is without choice and everything is spelled out to me from the first moment of my day until the end, I am anxious free and fine. Give me choice and give me a day where I am just supposed to get thigns done but it is open ended…I will accomplish nothing at all. So…it is exact. That made me even sadder. I thought I had a higher IQ. But the thing is they figured in my working memory which he said never developed and my adaptability or whatever that is never developed. So with all that said…he did mention disability.

You know, I’m a tough one. I will never ever give up. When he showed it to me, I was not really processing it. I didnt even hear the number he threw out there for my IQ. My friend, who went with me, mentioned it later in the meeting and I said, “huh?” I said thats my IQ? thats really low.

I looked at his paper which showed in a nutshell that without a doubt 100% I have Autism and some of the stuff that was in there with all the cognitive stuff, etc. could have happened in utero. Hence what I thought with the FASD stuff. But he did add say that the social component does not have to always be there to the extent that I have it with ASD. That the social anxiety with my ASD is so off the charts that he actually gave me that diagnosis as well. So,…this is another day.

Just a day.

I said to him…well all I want to know is how I make this all stronger. He said give me one thing you want to work on. I said my memory. I have like a very low ability to do short term memory. After repetition I can retain things a little better. that is why it is harder for me in the reading, as well. But I have a great word knowledge…I knew that…lol…and I can write…woohoo….

But the ability for comprehension and retaining I do need to work on so he said I need to work my brain because it simply did not develop. The frontal lobe part of my brain did not develop wehre I can bring forth information, etc…

Anyway, he said go to luminosity.com.

You bet I will.

I will do whatever I can to make my brain stronger.

This was harsh news, but news that I know will just make me stronger.

And I said to my friend, it just proves how strong I am. How I was able to accomplish these things that I never should have been able to. I just found another way.

And I’m not going to stop.

just another day.

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Aside

FASD and Autism…

I was recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, too. About 3 weeks ago. I have not said anything, here because I don’t know how I feel. There is one thing to think you have something, but then you are actually diagnosed with it. I went through the same thing when a doctor said I had all the characteristics of someone with FASD. I knew that you could have both. I actually wondered if I did. I have heard that people with FASD can have both. I know both can have a lot of the same traits, but I had a neurologist ask me a bunch of questions and he said not only by my answers, but in observing me, he knew I had Autism. Hmmm. Someone asked me how I felt. I didn’t even answer. I really don’t know how I feel about it. I’m not saying this is bad. I have got to know a lot of neurotypicals in my years and I can honestly say, there is not one I would want to be like…lol. So, I’m okay with being on the spectrum. When i wrote Autism Spectrum Disorder, the word that I kept staring at was Disorder. Really? This is a disorder? I want to look up what that means. Wait a second…okay a medical condition involving a disturbance to the usual functioning of the mind.

Okay. I will let that process.

Who says how we process and what we do is a distrubance. Okay. I get that things are not right. But who says that neurotypical brains are just that…typical?…

Just a question. Image

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! 

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

Square peg

This fits for those of us who are FASD. So many times society wants us to fit into society the way they fit. FASD people are absolutely that different peg. We come in all shapes and sizes and we don’t fit into society’s norm. I know personally employers, friends, and even family will try to shape us to fit into what makes sense to them and we are simply wired differently and it ain’t happenin…lol…
The best gift anyone can give any of us with FASD is meet us where we are, love us right where we live. We all need to change and be shaped in life. Nothing wrong with that, but do it with us and accept our disabilities and allow us to function within those parameters.  Frustration is not our friend. When we feel like we need to be different than who we are or the people around us don’t understand us or that the harder we try, the more we disappoint you, meltdowns will occur. 
If we know you will allow us to be who we are, that we don’t have to be pounded into a shape that fits for you, then frustration will be down and growth will be off the charts.
We want to please! If we know you are not pleased with us, then we are crushed. Our entire being wants to be accepted for the square peg that we are. Square, rectangular, triangular, many shaped forms of FASD..
The world is blessed with many different shapes and sizes of people. Our creativity and love for others is so deep …that could be lost if you try to conform us into the rest of society. FASD individuals have a lot of great gifts and talents!!  We are great contributors in society!!

FAS and abilities not disabilities

I’m ecstatic. I mean seriously happy!!

Those of us with FAS so many times hear how we can not make it in the world. There is nothing we want more but to be like our neurotypical friends.

I am here to share with you that even though I had every odd against me, I have made it! I have beaten every odd!

Eight years ago, I had written a book. A newspaper editor got a hold of it and she read it. She loved it so much that she contacted me and asked me if I had ever considered writing for a newspaper. I gave it a try. Eight years later, I won state journalism awards.

One of the articles I covered was about a school for autistics or a school for those that are not neurotypical. A teacher who decided to leave the school system and open her own school for kids who need sensory-friendly, teacher-sensitive environments.

She started a school by Canton Ohio called Idea House (http://www.ideahouseeducationalservices.com/.) The story I was able to write for them, generated such a positive rippling that Angi (founder of Idea House) remembered me.

I recently left the newspaper business. I have been trying to figure out how to make things work financially. I don’t have the most typical brain. Finding a job that will fit is a little difficult for me.

Idea house is getting ready for their school year. Angi and I were talking. Next thing I know, I go in for an interview and I have a job with them. I will be writing their newsletter, doing their website, photography, helping with the kids, and I will be organizing her office. It fits me so perfect! I could not be more excited!

On the way home from the interview, I get a call from Jeff Noble from  http://fasdforever.com/ . and he asks me to be involved with a conference call coming up in September and we discussed possibilities of plugging me into more opportunities to help with FASD. I would do anything to advocate for this cause.

So, in one day, I got a job where I will be  working at a school for kids with neurodisabilities, and I will have another opportunity to do a conference call to help caregivers whose loved ones have FASD.

I have FASD. This is a success!

When I was in kindergarten, I got the will not graduate high school diagnosis. Ann’s disabilities are too significant. Brain damage is permanent. Well I got a  masters degree and with much determination, I can make these things happen! When I was on the phone with Jeff Noble, he said he wanted to share my success story and I told him, I know I screw up a lot. I know I have had my problems, but the thing is I don’t stay down.

I won’t stay down.

I refuse.

We might have a diagnosis with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, but that does not mean we are not able to be successful and positive contributors to this society. Don’t let the negatives you hear, be your future. Write your own future. Do it, in spite of. Do it to prove them wrong. Do it because you are a person with hopes and dreams and aspirations. You are the author of your future.

Don’t let FAS be who you are–as a negative. Don’t deny it. Grasp on to it. Be proud and use it to make a difference in other’s lives and in your own.

And don’t let other’s negative thoughts and opinions of you, consume you…
Yea, we  think differently…
Yea we are wired differently…
Yea we have sensory issues.
Yea we have meltdowns.
Yea we need time outs.
Yea we have processing problems.
Yea we don’t understand things like everyone else.
Yea, we have auditory, eyes, and speaking problems.


So What!


We might do things differently, but sometimes different is better.
Being wired differently allows for creativity and uniqueness.
We might have sensory issues, but we are so sensitive to all around us.
We have meltdowns, but we are trying to learn how to make them less frequent.
I might have no depth perception and my eyes don’t converge, but I see a tear before it falls.


We might not be like everyone, but we are not less than.


In fact, we are amazing and can be great contributors!  


Yes we can…one of my first blogs about making it in spite of the odds…http://hopefasd.blogspot.com/2012/04/all-i-hear-is-blah-blah-blah-reposted.html

Ways that we are different…but AWESOME!..Pull up a blade of grass, sit down, and get to know me. .http://hopefasd.blogspot.com/2012/04/see-world-through-my-eyes.html