Let's say you are walking down the street. You notice that a shop has planted some beautiful flowers on the boulevard. They are bright and fragrant. A young man walks by and notices the flowers. He moves quickly and starts picking them. The shop owner comes out and tells him that is vandalism. He continues to pick the flowers until the shop owner tells him to leave. It is too bad that man feels so entitled. He must have been spoilt as a child. It is sad that this bad man had such bad parents.
It is so easy to assume we know all about people when we see the way they act in public. What it is not always easy to remember is that many people have invisible and often times, undiagnosed disabilities. A person with FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) may look "normal", may speak with a "normal" vocabulary, may have a "normal" (or even above average) IQ. What they may not have is the ability to understand consequences, the ability to calm themselves down or the ability to understand instructions.
The young man picking the flowers may have thought that his girlfriend would like them. His brain could not make the connection that the flowers were not his to pick. He had a thought and his brain said "do it". The child in the store may have started feeling upset and soon that feeling took over. The child did not yet have the tools to stop the tantrum, even though this is something that he is working on with his parents at home.
1 out of every 100 Canadians are born with the affects of FASD. This does not mean that their birth parents are bad people. 60% of people with FASD will end up in the criminal justice system. This does not mean that they are bad people. They have a physical, neurological disorder that makes it so that they cannot always understand cause and effect. People with FASD are not stupid. They are often frustrated, they are often misunderstood and they often do not get the help they need.
|The affects of FASD are caused by a physical disability|
not "bad behaviour"
We do not know exactly how we feel about being the parents of a child with FASD. There are certain behaviours that we may find too difficult. This is only because of our own shortcomings but we need to be honest about those. We also have to be open to the possibility because the child/children that we adopt could end up developing new and difficult behaviours that lead to a diagnosis years after finalisation. If this happens, we will fight fiercely for them to have everything that they need to succeed to the best of their abilities.
Whew... long post! Want to read even more (you've got nothing better to do, right?)?
Check out this publication from the John Howard Society: http://johnhoward.on.ca/pdfs/FactSheet_26_FASD_and_the_Criminal_Justice_System.pdf