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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

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I AM FASD FASD IS ME

I was with a child the other day who is autistic. He was in a group of other autistic children and he asked what someone’s disability was. The answer was he is autistic.  The kid who asked lit up from ear to ear and said, “Autism is me.” I beamed with him. He was so proud! He said it all in his entire body how he felt.  He was not ashamed. He didn’t feel the need to hide. He was proud of who he was!!
I think of how many of us would say FASD is me. AND beam from ear to ear and want to shout from the rooftops who they are. Doesn’t mean that is all of who a person is, but is a part of who they are and they are proud and do not feel a stigma or ashamed.
A girl from this group was asked to fill out a questionnaire about who she is. What’s your favorite color, etc. She was asked, “what do you want people to know about you?” She answered that I have autism. Another question was, “If you grow up to be famous, what would you like to be famous for?” This child didn’t even hesitate. She wrote that she wanted to be famous for having autism. I instantly thought of Temple Grandin. She is known for having autism. Plain and simple. She is known for paving the way for so many and showing them that even though she has it, she has made a difference in the world.
How many of us with FASD want to be actually known for FASD? How many would sit in a group and point to themselves like that little boy and just say, “I am FASD.”
I want to be known for having it.
I want to pave the way and show that even though I have it, I can still make a huge contribution to society.
Even though my brain does not work like everyone else…I still might not be able to always talk like everyone else (but I find ways to talk)…I might not be able to sit by people cuz if I do, the rest of my senses go into total overload, but I sit far enough away that I can still think…( I just figure it out my way—it works)…I might have a hard time with my brain processing…but I have the ability to read emotion like no one else and connect at a deep calming level…I may look at you and not find the words with my mouth, but I find the words with my eyes and soul…
I might not be like many…but I am like some…and our some is growing and growing….unfortunately
Us some have to stand up and say, “I am FASD and look at me. I am making a difference. I am proud.”
Proud that our moms drank when she was pregnant with us? NO
Proud to be! Proud to connect and love and feel and make a difference. Proud to do in spite of all the tests that say we can’t. WE are determined and fight like no other to survive.
I AM FASD! FASD is me! Thanks to these kids for showing that it’s okay to be who we are…all of who we are…and still beam from ear to ear…and be proud!

Proud

Being someone with FAS is a conglomeration of emotions. I didn’t find out until I was an adult. I knew I had significant disabilities. I Knew what neurologists said, but I stayed in denial for a very long time about how significant. I mean, does it really matter what the professionals say when you weigh in determination and heart? No, not really.

I know they know all the medical reasons to why I do the things I do. I know they can explain why my upper lip is thinner and why the area between my nose and lip are flatter than its supposed to be. They can tell me why my pinkys swerve inward and why my eyes are the way they are.

When the genetics doctor looked at me and said alcohol played a significant factor to your disabilities…its like the world stopped. She didn’t even hesitate. She knew. She looked at my baby pictures and looked at me as an adult and she didn’t even have to do further testing. It wasn’t even a maybe.

There is a spectrum in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. To find out that you are full blown FAS made me face some hard realities.

It did explain a lot. it connected dots for me. I understood why I had struggled my whole life. Why I couldn’t DO things other kids could do growing up. Why I was not able to function in the adult world like my peers. Yea, I got it.

It made me face some hard realities. DD? Developmentally Disabled? Really? Get a social worker for me so I can get services for being FAS?

Thinking you are FAS is a lot different than a professional looking in your eyes and saying “You, without a doubt, are FAS. That is a whole different level of acceptance.

You know, at first, I don’t even know what I felt. I know I got quiet. Didn’t feel like talking about it. Felt loss, grief.

To know that you will NEVER have the brain that others have. To know that I will NEVER be able to overcome these disabilities. To know that my mom drank and that is the reason…

Cry.

Hard things to face.

I believe that my biological mom didn’t do it on purpose. Forty years ago, they didn’t know the stuff they do now. Plus, she was not one that would have been taking care of herself. Didn’t matter to me. I loved her until she died. I was loyal to her. Even though, she never really recognized me as a daughter, I still recognized her as my mom.

FASDers have to face a lot of different obstacles besides just the disability. Hurts, rejections, and abuse often come along with it. Many of us are adopted young to great families and the hurt stops, but some of us are not.

Some of us have a lifetime of pain, abuse, and continued rejections.

I grieved for the fact that there were losses here. With my biological mom and the fact that I have had to face that there are simply limitations that will never be fixed.

Is this negative? Gosh, I hope not. This is real.

Do I feel less than?
Do I feel a defeat?

NO!! I feel absolute accomplishment.
I feel pride.

I have made it in spite of.
I have surpassed all expectations and I’m not done yet.

Knowing what I have accomplished with this brain makes me even more proud.

Sometimes, I smile just because I say exactly what I want to verbally…lol. Often times, what comes out is just not how I had planned it.

Sometimes, I am complete joyful because I made a meal for my daughter and EB and it was amazing.

The small everyday things makes me know I’m making it. I’m functioning like everybody else. I can do this!

Oh, the big things? Getting my masters degree when they said I wouldn’t graduate high school? Driving when they told me I never could because of my eyes.
Hitting home runs when they told me I would never hit a ball.
Becoming an award winning journalist when they said I would not be able to communicate well.
Being a great mom when I had so much against me just as an individual, let alone take care of another.

I’m proud!
The determination I feel when I wake up in the morning to beat the crap out of the day a head of me is what drives me.

The exhaustion I feel even sometimes mid-day lets me know that I am fighting one hell of a fight.

No, I’m not ever going to let any disability beat me.

Realities can hurt. They are painful.

BUT…

They didn’t see me coming…

I told myself I was going to be the BEST ANN I could be.
I told myself that I was going to LIVE.
FASD or not…I’m going to BE.