Guest Blog by The Auntie
On Saturday morning I spent nearly three hours at an FASD support group with my brother, in the company of a couple of birth mothers, some adopters, some fosterers (sic?) and a partner, swapping stories, discussing Social Services options and the school system.
Having read a lot of the information that my sister-in-law has shared on various media platforms, I thought I was quite up to date with what information was out there. But whilst listening to these primaries carers, I began to realize that I know nothing!
Those parents/carers that are on the coal face know instinctively that there are no rules. Each of their children is different. And will behave differently on different days – what works one day, won’t work the next. One day they think they have spotted a trigger and then next day, it doesn’t trigger. Similar behaviours were discussed and random differences. There was empathy, sympathy and laughter.
I asked some questions and tried to wrap my head around the answers. Even more than conversations with my brother and sister-in-law, this group made me realize that there is no formula for success with FASD children, but each parent and carer muddles along as best they can.
One comment that nearly broke my heart was when a couple said that they had stopped asking close family and friends for help. Their family and friends just didn’t get it. This wasn’t said to gain sympathy. It was just said. These families spend all their time fighting the system, educating the system and trying to get the system to work for them. At this support group we were able to exchange ideas, good contacts and ways to access formal support.
But what I found most useful was that not one person there seemed to look at me and think “she’s not a parent, she’s not going to get it”. They were open and frank and willing to help me understand. I know I’ve said it before, but it’s a massive thing for FASD families to ask for help and if they’ve stopped asking, you are going to have to be the ones to open that dialogue.
If you have the opportunity to join your family at one of these support groups, I can promise it will go a long way to help you get it. Or even go looking for one for them to attend, if they don’t already.
FASD parents/carers can support each other, but you can support the support.
Respite (verb) – to grant a temporary period of relief, by The Auntie