Synapses. Hemispheres. I’m not even sure what all that means. I know it has to do with the brain. I know that my left hemisphere and my right hemisphere don’t work together like they are supposed to. There is a disconnect.
There’s a lot of misfiring going on in there. I don’t need to tell you how much of an FASD brain is affected. I know it’s a spectrum, but we do have many similarities.
One of the biggest things we don’t like is change. We do not adapt well and we need lots of time to process when a change is coming.
When I was 11, my dad, my world, my everything died and…as I referred to in (a previous post)…I had no idea who I was anymore.
It was November 25. It was like any other day. My dad leaned over my bed and kissed me goodbye before he went to work. I got up and went to school. I came home, ate, and went to swim practice.
I did it every day for years.
It was my routine.
That particular day, my neighbor came to pick me up from practice.
“Where’s my mom?”
“She’s at the hospital with your dad,” my neighbor said. “They are just running tests. Nothing major.”
She drove right past my house and went to hers.
I can still remember what was on the television. Happy Days.
Laverne and Shirley was starting and the phone rang.
My neighbor’s daughter hung the phone up and told me she could take me home now.
When we pulled in there was a lot of people. My neighbor did not even say anything at all to prepare me. All she said was ‘Bye.’
I went in. Looked around. I saw all of my neighbors. I saw my two aunts (my dad’s sisters.)
Now, I have FASD. I have a hard time processing to begin with, but this was a situation that I had no idea what to make of it and noone (even without FASD) wouldn’t have been able to.
They say that FASD people are at least half their age. So, at 11, I would say I was around 5-6 emotionally. Not sure. Sometimes I feel that now.
I looked on the couch and I saw my adoptive mom sitting there crying. I don’t know why, but the first thing I remember saying was, “Is it dad?”
She burst in tears and shook her head.
“Is he sick?”
“Could he die?”
I don’t remember anything, but a room full of people looking at me and they said I threw a book.
Death? I really did not even understand death. I just knew that meant I would never see my dad again.
I spent the rest of that night in my room by myself.
The next morning I actually got up. It was the day before Thanksgiving break.
I got ready for school and came down and said, “I’m ready to go to school.”
My adoptive mom and aunts laughed. “You aren’t going to school. Your dad just died.”
I went back to my room.
I ventured down and spent the rest of the next three days playing the same song over and over.
Have no idea why, other than the fact that it calmed me. Repetition. I must have played that song a thousand times. I can’t believe someone didn’t tell me to stop.
All through the next few days, with people coming over and funeral planning, etc. Not one person took the time to sit down with me to make sure I understood what was going on.
People with FASD can often feel invisible. We can be in a crowded room and feel like we are the only ones not included.
All it would have taken was someone to sit next to me, someone in the family and just sit with me. Not let me sit alone.
All it would have taken was someone to ask, “How are you?”
FASD brains are confused brains. There is so much that goes on around us and it is so hard for us to process all of it. If life could operate at our speed, it would be so much easier.
We understand better when people slow down their speech.
We understand better when people make sure we understand what they are saying before they move on to the next point.
We understand better when things are broken down into smaller increments. One sentence at a time, sometimes.
We want to understand.
It’s like being in a tornado and asking what did you see and hear when you were in there.
I remember sitting in the room with all the plans of my father’s funeral, etc. going on and seriously hearing a bunch of chaos, not making sense to any of it and not one person taking any time at all to prepare me before I went into the funeral home for the first time.
Noone told me I would see my dad in that state and what to expect.
He died instantly.
Massive heart attack.
He was only 55.
He was my life.
I said in a previous post that I started drinking when I was 11.
Well, that is not altogether true.
Yea, drinking alone, it’s true.
My dad would always come home and from the age of three I remember sitting next to him with my little shot glass and his beer. It was our time. No…lol…I don’t condone him giving me beer in a shot glass at age three. Not at all. I just know that it was some of the best times of my childhood. Sitting quietly next to my dad, on the couch every night drinking our beer, was our thing.
I know he didn’t think that he was hurting me and I know he didnt realize then as much as he did later just how much of my brain was already damaged from alcohol in utero.
He loved me. He was the best dad. He was the only one who got me. Who met me where I was and just would sit quiet with me. During those times, it was as if the world slowed down to my speed.
We need help having the world explained to us.
Just last night…lol…my external brain (my choice of wording) and my 16-year-old daughter were watching NCIS. They were really into it. They were making all kinds of comments, etc. I was so lost. I had no idea. I try not to stop the show too frequently, but in order for me to understand the show completely, I have to stop and ask what just happened, what does that mean.
If we could slow life down to slow mo…we would be fine. We just don’t process that fast.
We need constant interpreters.
The important thing is, if you can be an interpreter for someone with FASD, be one.
Don’t let too much go on before life is explained.
Make sure the one with FASD is caught up to the rest of the room.
I thank God every day for my life interpreter’s.