Trying Differently Rather Than Harder
Trying Differently Rather Than Harder is a book is by Diane Malbin, M.S.W. I have had this book since 2016. There are times I wish my brain would soak up and retain all the things that I have read. This is one of those books that I need to retain about 98% of what it says.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is COMPLETELY preventable. First and foremost, it is NEVER okay to drink while pregnant. I would go as so far as to say do not drink EVER during your childbearing years if you are sexually active. No birth control works 100% of the time unless of course, it is ABSTINENCE!
I do not make those statements lightly and I am fully aware that I will get flack for it. Frankly, I don’t give a damn about your flack. Why you may ask? Because I am raising 2 humans that didn’t ask for the cards they were dealt in life.
Types of FASD
There is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (what my kids have), Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Effects, Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder, Alcohol-Related Birth Defects, and Neurobehavioral Disorder Associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure.
This begins at conception, people. It can also carry through sperm, so there’s that little tidbit. I was talking tonight, to a friend, about this book. She asked I told her what it was about. This young girl, 16 or 17 maybe, overheard our conversation and she said “I thought it was safe to drink wine while you were pregnant.”
Guarantee, I scared the crap out of this girl. Unintentionally. My friend and I looked at each other and then at her. We both raised our voices and said “NO!” It is NEVER safe to drink while pregnant. EVER.
This Sweet Girl
She was genuine in her questions. Truly, she thought it was okay. I explained to her the problems/issues/medical side of the dangers of drinking. She was thoughtful, curious, and asked very appropriate questions. Then she smiled and said “You taught me something today.” I kindly replied with “remain abstinent and pass the dangers of this onto your friends.”
I will not go into their stories because it is a violation of their privacy. However, the things we deal with, on a daily basis, are hard. We deal with memory loss, no cause/effect, misdiagnosis, the physicality of FASD, learning disabilities, executive functioning issues, sensory, speech, receptive/expressive skills, simple tasks, confabulation, and so much more.
What I see, in a “typical” child as being defiant, lazy, or just finding their way is different in a child with FASD. I am struggling. There is no reason to lie. The last 5 years have been HARD. I don’t mean a little bit hard. Seriously, I mean H.A.R.D.
Picking It Back Up
As I was looking for another book to read, I saw this on my shelf. It had a layer of dust and lots of coke stains (and tears). As I was reading it again, my eyes were open to the difficulties that we have been facing with one of our children.
I am *so* tired. This child is in a stage of stealing and has been for a few years. Sadly, it has amped up to an alarming level. Yet, this child can justify it because the “intentions” were to ask but the reality is “there just wasn’t time to ask.”
Hurts my soul. I called my sister and said “there is no amount of punishment or discipline that affects this child. I don’t know what more I can do.” In the preface of this book, in the second paragraph, it says, “A common misperception that “nothing works” surrounds people with FASD.”
Cue…this is the book I need to read at this moment.
So many times, these kids are labeled as ADHD, ADD, OCD, ODD, DMDD, Bipolar, etc. When in reality, they have a form of FASD yet since they don’t have the “classic” facial features, they are misdiagnosed. These kids may have been adopted and don’t know the history. Sadly, out of shame, a mom doesn’t tell the whole truth about drinking or the father drinking some.
There is no hard evidence to show how much drinking is too much. How scary is that? One time can change the course of a child’s (and parent’s) life. These kids are medicated, sometimes heavily, and then we wonder why the meds don’t work.
Cause ya can’t fix BRAIN DAMAGE. That’s why! See, that pisses me off. A doctor will medicate for anything. You can’t sit still, ADD, here is a pill. Struggling with depression, here is an anti-depressant. Anxiety? Here’s a pill. Can’t sleep? Oh, here’s another pill. This cycle is vicious. Unless you are trained in knowing the signs or look deeper, if the facial features or history is not there…they overlook the obvious.
Not Here to Shame
I am not here to shame moms. Really, I’m not. I want to educate, bring awareness to doctors, schools, and therapists. Not gonna lie…due to my EXTREME frustration with one child (and the fact this child was getting violent), I had to send her to another place for several months.
It was not the answer but it gave my family time to heal and this child the space needed to realize that violence is not the answer. We were (are) SOLIDLY looking at a facility for another child, again, no shame, because behaviors at home are reaching high peaks.
No Easy Answer
There is no easy answer to the questions I have, daily. I guess the only easy solution is to not drink while pregnant. For the love, not while you are breastfeeding, and if you are super extra do NOT put it in a child’s bottle. Yes, that is done all too often.
This book is not the be-all and end-all in FASD. It does give a different perspective that I needed to see, at this point in my life. I will reread it tomorrow and probably the next day. Also, the school needs a copy. They have zero clues as to the effects of alcohol on a child. Oh, that is for another day to blog about because I am still fired up.
For now, I will encourage you to pay attention. If a behavior is a constant pattern, it is likely not defiance…it is something deeper. This book can be geared towards those with neurological deficits, as well, without FASD.
There will not always be facial features, be aware of that. Kids from hard places that are adopted…learn as much as you can. I’m not saying do not bring them into your home. I am saying, however, to become a student. Watch. Get them and you into therapy. Read, learn, implement what you learn.
They had a crap beginning. I’ve always been honest with them about their diagnosis. There is no reason for them to just think they are stupid because they aren’t stupid. My kids have areas where they are BRILLIANT. Then, there are areas that they struggle in deeply.
They will have a bright future. I will do all that I can, provide what I can get the services they need to ensure that they have every opportunity that anyone else has. It is hard. Every day is hard. I have had to make some hard decisions and I will continue to do so. Though, I will ignore the judgment of others. I’m doing the best that I can do. Until you jump around in my skin or the skin of my children and walk around a mile…shut your freaking pie hole.
Can You Tell?
Can you tell I have faced intense judgment? Honestly, can you tell my children have been made fun of and judged? Can you tell my kids have been picked on and bullied by kids AND adults?
Mama may be tired but I am still fierce.