What does success for our children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder look like? Most often it looks like nothing to those who do not know the struggles and challenges we face and that sometimes what seems like no big deal to others, is a huge deal in our world.
The maiden turns 20 tomorrow. We’ve been together almost twelve years. She told me she is getting up at 7:20 a.m. tomorrow because that’s what time she was born. I told her I wasn’t present at her birth 20 years ago, but I’ll be up with her tomorrow to help her celebrate her 20th.
I thought in honour of her birthday, I’d share a real success story – on so many levels.
Last week she went to a week long day camp for adults with FASD. She has had very little success at “special needs” camps – because they don’t get FASD. She is engaging, funny and a social butterfly. But:
- is bullied or ostracized by most neuro-typical kids at regular camps;
- rarely finishes anything she starts;
- isn’t athletic – doesn’t enjoy sports because she was never picked for teams. Also scared of getting hurt (the slightest scratch and you’d think she needs hospitalization); and
- unless she is getting up to spend money or open gifts (which will be tomorrow) she can be a nightmare to wake up.
Last week, however, with the exception of one morning where I had to blast Imagine Dragons “Thunder” (and before any negative comments, we both love this song and do awesome carpool karaoke) she got up on her own 3/5 mornings and showered twice. She participated in every game and activity – found out she is a natural at tennis (but she isn’t interested in doing it again ) and went to camp all 5 days.
Family and caregivers were invited on the last day for a special presentation – where each of the campers were given a small gift, but more important the camp leaders spoke of the positive qualities of each camper.
The maiden was commended on her ability to fit right in (she was the only new member of the group – the camp has been running for almost 10 years) like she had always been there and on her ability to make others laugh and her kind and gentle nature.
So if you have followed our story, you will know what we have been through. Much of what many families are still going through. We still have challenges, but last week was a great week. Why?
- She finished something she started.
- She enjoyed the games and sports.
- She fit in with the group and enjoyed herself.
- She was recognized for her strengths.
Those are very big success steps for someone with FASD.