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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


FASD and yes I turned my passions into top awards! YES WE CAN!

Yes it’s true. One of us…someone with FASD…born with Fetal Alcohol syndrome…told that she would not amount to much in life…is heading to the state capital tomorrow to receive several state journalism awards including the top honor…the Helen Waterhouse Award. Yes…It’s me.

Someone with FASD did it! If you have FASD you can do it!!! Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t!

My brain didn’t work. My brain didn’t connect. My brain misfires all the time…


Because I was never able to communicate well in speech, writing was essential. It’s funny because I could not do that very well at all, at first. I had a hard time figuring out what the letters were and I had a very hard time writing them. I only saw half a page so I only wrote on half. My teacher used to draw red lines to the end of the page in order for me to see all of it. Well, I learned through the years to fill up a page…lol…and then some. My editor would always ask me to tighten it up…lol.

People with FASD can! We will! We do!! Find a passion and turn into a dream.

I would sit in my room and write. I would write and write and write. I would write poetry and anything I could to express myself. If I had something to say to someone that was important, I would write it and give them the note. It probably seemed weird to give a note instead of voicing what I had to say. I  just wanted to make sure what I wanted to say was actually said…if that makes sense. The disconnect in my brain with FASD causes circuits to not always work and I can get out every fifth word at times and I dont convey well in speech.

My brain connects with writing. It can think in eloquence when my fingers are moving. This is my brain writing…

Pull up a blade of grass, sit down, and get to know me.
Sit quietly with me. I love your company, but I love the silence.
Get up close and look at the fabric of a tree. The wrinkles on its trunk tell a story.
Watch the wind catch the wings of a bird as it soars.
Look at life as if you are looking at it for the first time…every time.
Look at a puddle as an invitation.
Just try to walk past a button on a wall without pushing it to see what it does.

Look at a rubber band as something to snap or send flying through the air.
Watch a spider spin its web and focus on an ant that is carrying more weight than its body.

Watch my eyes dance as I think of something fun or mischievous to get into.
Look at everything as a toy.

Watch me do what is the impossible.
Watch me soar and LIVE when I was told that it wasn’t possible.

Look at the determination in my eyes.
Know that there is hope…not defeat.
Know that there is a passion for life
Know that there is purity and innocence behind my eyes
Know that my desire is to please and to love deeply
Know that I was given a strong will. One that will make it despite the disabilities.

Watch me figure out the world.
Watch me realize my gifts and talents.

We love the simple things.
We see the depth in things that many people miss.
A kiss on a cheek to someone who needs hope.
A hand on a shoulder in support.
A wiping away a tear for someone who is hurting.

We feel deeply.
We hurt because we let you down.
We want nothing else than to do what is asked.

Don’t give up on us.
We aren’t giving up on you.

Frustration can lead to anger that can lead to things we didn’t plan on doing.

No. I did’t want to blow. I didn’t want to hit the wall in frustration.
I didn’t mean to make you mad or upset about what I didn’t do or what I didn’t understand.

I’m trying.
I’m giving my all, but…but…

sometimes its like your talking a different language.
sometimes its like I can tell you see me as different.
sometimes I can feel your frustration when I’m not doing something right.
sometimes, my all doesn’t feel good enough.

Not for you.

It is for me.

It has to be.

I’m happy.

I will let go of things in five seconds or less.
I don’t remember what happened anyway…short term memory problem.

I don’t want to focus on the hurts and my disabilities.

I want to focus on the joys that this life offers.

Take a picture.

Every picture shows the world in a totally different perspective.
In a way that we never would have noticed before.

You might see kids running.

I see their playfulness.
I see the field they are frolicking through.
I see the grains in the field and the colors.
I see the smiles on their faces as they enjoy the blue skies while the butterflies are on the flowers nearby.

I see love everywhere.
I see positive.

My blowups and frustrations are but mere blips in the day.

They are not who I am and they do not define me.

The dance in my eyes defines me.
The skip in my step.
The smile on my face.
The joys that surpass anything I CAN”T do….defines me.

I don’t focus on what I CAN’T DO.
I only see opportunities and possibilities.

I get angry because people say I can’t.

I can…
Do it with me.
Not for me.

Don’t look down on me because I might need a little help.

Be patient. because if you stay long enough you might just get a piece of this joy.
You might just get to know the real me.
you might just get to see a glimpse of what is behind this thing they call FASD.

Ah…that is not Who I am.
That is just a thing I have.

A birth defect.
A mark on the brain.

So, our brains our wired differently than yours.

Look up, does your brain see what mine does?
Do you count the stars and smile when you can find the big dipper and the small one?
Does your brain see the beauty in a cityscape?
Does your brain see the shapes and figures in the architecture?
Do you stop and refresh in the sound of silence?
Do you smell a flower with your eyes closed and feel peace?
Do you get excited when you can share with another person the simple things in life?

Look a plane.
Look a flower.

I do.
I have FASD.
I’m a person.
I’m not a disability.
I have a future.
I have talents.
I have gifts.
I have hope
I have laughter
I have orneriness.
I have…
I love…
I care for…
I want…
I need….
I am…

This is my brain talking…
Sit. its nice out. thats a cool tree. oh look at that plane.
I smell a flower and say nothing. I sit down to an ant hill and my eyes dance in fun but say nothing.

BUT if you my mind would say all of what I wrote above in the poem…my mouth just doesnt connect with my brain to say it.

Oh, how I wish it did. The things I could convey.

I was asked to do a speech tomorrow for this grand event. I would love to.

I could be disappointed in myself for not giving the speech or be proud of myself for writing the awards. Proud that I won the most awards in Ohio. Proud to win the Helen Waterhouse Award. Just proud to be a journalist!!

I could focus on the fact that I let the heads of OPW down because I wrote a speech and asked them to read it for me or the fact that I am proud of myself for finding an alternative way of conveying what I have to say.

I have been asked by many to speak all over the country because of this blog. I was thinking about that. Do I want to? Absolutely! I want to go to anywhere I am asked and speak about FASD. I want the world to know about this cause.

I was telling my (external brain friend) yesterday, you know…there is a difference between going into a room where everybody knows your FASD and speaking. BUT speaking in a  room where they all expect you to speak like a NT (neurotypical) because they have no idea you are FASD, is very scary. In so many ways FASD individuals are really forced to conform to what society needs us to be and we want to do it. We would rather have a brain that was not like this. I would love to just stand up and have my brain work and say all I need to say and trust my mouth will work.

I am proud. I mean I won top journalism honors and I have FASD. I mean WOW! Thats the most amazing thing!!

 I took something I was weak at…communication and I knocked it out of the park!




I’ve always been quiet. My brain is not! If I could say what I think, I would never shut up…lol. I find myself in situations where everyone is talking and I seriously cannot connect my brain with my mouth so I appear quiet or shy and that is really not the case. Well, I might have a little bit of those, but really I’m like that because I know that my brain is not cooperating. It can be embarrassing to have a room full of people waiting for me to put my sentence together. For some reason, putting my hand on my head helps. I really have no idea why. Have always been that way. If I put my hand on my head and breathe in deep, I can gather myself together enough to form sentences.

Putting my hand on my head calms me. My insides are anxious and just that feeling of a hand on the head is an instant calm, even if it is my own.

I think one of my biggest frustrations is communication. I could walk around with a pencil and paper and communicate all day, but that is not how the world does it. We are expected to do what the rest of the world does. What if we all walked around with different forms of communication. Not just speech. A lot of my frustrations are simply because I am not able to communicate what I want or need to.

The people who I like to be around are those who help me to communicate. They are patient. They don’t force me to tell them what I need to in their allotted time. They don’t let me feel small because I am having a rough time getting the words out.

Finding ways for someone with FASD to communicate can really alleviate a lot of frustration. I know I can act out, get agitated, get angry just because things build up and I am not able to communicate the way others do. We really are forced to be in a world where walking around with a pencil and a paper to communicate would just be looked at as weird.

I wish society was more accepting of disabilities. The numbers are growing that having a disability is almost the norm. There are so many people with autism and FASD that you would think that there would be different options of communication that are acceptable by now…lol. I know thats a stretch, but let an FASDer dream. I would love to just whip out my pad and pencil while in a mall talking with friends and just write so I can say exactly what I mean instead of sit there for a minute trying to get my brain to connect with my mouth to get the words out. and even still, not even say exactly what I mean, but bits and pieces of what I wanted to say. It’s okay. But it really can make a day in the life of someone with FASD, very hard.

It is crucial that the FASDer have people in their immediate circle who can help them to communicate. Let them find their way to communication. Help bridge that gap.

Encourage drawing, singing, writing song lyrics, photography, and writing. Let them build with legos or find other creative ways to express who they are and how they see the world.

I know for a fact that our silence brings about a deeper thinker. We are very deep thinkers and we connect with life in a way that others do not. That adds to the frustration, I think. I see so much. I see pain deeper. I see heartache in a way that I feel it. I want to convey people’s pain and the way I see things so I start shooting my camera or writing because I feel this stuff and I can’t find another way to get it out, but to do it creatively. It really helps eliminate some frustration.

We get stuck. We don’t want to be stuck in our frustration where it gets to the point that we act out regretting later what we did. My thing is punching walls or myself.

I hate with all of me to be stuck. I want to always be moving forward and I am constantly trying to find a way to do that. How can I learn. How can I move forward. This didnt work. This didnt. work. I will work until I find a way to make it work. How can I do it?

How can I communicate? Help us find ways to do this. Sit down next to us. Quietly. Meet us where we are. Let us calm and find a way to tell you what we are feeling. Let us tell you how we see the world. Hand us a pencil and say write it down and tell me. Draw it. Write me a song or a poem that conveys what you want to say. Is there a character on tv that you can relate with that you can share to tell me how you feel? There has to be a way and that way has to be okay for everybody in the room.

Sometimes it is nice when people (society) comes to the world of those who have disabilities and they are forced to communicate the way we understand instead of us having to always work outside of our brain abilities just so its socially acceptable.

Helping us find ways to communicate equals a calmer house. Equals a calmer FASDer or someone with autism. It means frustration will melt before a meltdown or a blowup. When you see a meltdown coming or a blowup, hand them a pencil and paper and ask them to tell you exactly what they are feeling. Write. Do whatever you need to tell me how you feel. Do it please because I really want to know.