The world often looks at a child like mine, who suffers from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), as a hopeless case. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. He is a warrior. And he is overcoming this disorder every single day!
My son sat slumped next to the front door in a defeated posture. “What’s wrong kiddo?” I said. “We’re going to church and you won’t tie my shoe for me!” he shouted back. I jumped, surprised at his response. He hadn’t asked for help. To my knowledge, he hadn’t even been sitting there that long. I crouched down next to him. I almost yelled but remembered quickly that my son’s brain doesn’t work like other children, he has FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) and his frustration level goes from 0-60 without warning. I took a breath again and asked if I could show him how to do it with one shoe and he could do it with the other shoe. “No!” he shouted again. I stood up and calmly reminded him that shouting hurts my feelings, I would be happy to help when he was ready.
I walked a distance away and waited. Half an hour went past and his facial expression changed. He took a shoe lace in each hand and with marked concentration talked himself through the steps of tying his shoe. When he was done with one shoe he looked up at me and asked with exhaustion, “Mom, will you do the other shoe?” I walked over and tied his shoe and squeezed his shoulders, “good job buddy.”
Thirty minutes is how long it took for him to be ready for the task. Thirty minutes! My brain works at a pretty quick pace. I almost never sit still for a moment. Patience is not my greatest quality. 30minutes to me is like an eternity but for my son, that’s how long it took for his brain to reregulate. I was tempted to sit and stew about the wasted time but then I looked at his sweet face contorted with frustration. I desperately wanted to scoop him up, reach into his brain and push the button for peacefulness. I wanted to bypass the block that keeps him from doing multiple step directions with ease. I can’t do that. He can’t do that. His brain is like a simmering pot. Just one small nudge on the temperature and he starts boiling. Just like that boiling pot, it takes some time for his brain to cool down and start thinking clearly again.
You can read the whole post from Kristin Berry here.
Mike and Kristin Berry are the authors of the book The Adoptive Parent Toolbox and the parents of 8 children, all of whom are adopted. They also host a blog for adoptive and foster parents called http://confessionsofanadoptiveparent.com.