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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

World Perception - Life With FASD

Having a child with FASD requires parents to always be on their toes. These children often have complex social/emotional difficulties and perceive their world in ways that are foreign to the majority of society. I have struggled to understand how Joseph's mind works so I can better understand him and what I have been discovering is sobering. 

It often seems as though Joseph is deliberately lying. We used to get incredibly frustrated because when we had a situation we were trying to figure out, his answers just made the problem worse. Asking him a simple question such as, "Where were you when xyz happened," can result in multiple answers some of which make sense while others make no sense at all. Asking the same question two minutes apart guarantees two different answers. It looked like he was lying to protect himself. As I learned more about FASD, I came to understand that those affected perceive the world differently. For instance, this morning we heard the train blow it's whistle at a crossing nearby. Joseph said, "It is going to be cold, Dad said when you hear a train that means it is going to be cold outside, I think he said that about two years ago." What Dean really meant was, when we can clearly hear the whistle it will probably rain soon due to the air moving in the right direction. Joseph thought he meant the coming rain makes the train blow it's whistle.

Joseph wants to give the right answer to a question so he will say what he thinks we want to hear whether it is the truth or not. He isn't trying to deceive us, he has a childlike desire to please us. It took us a long time to figure that one out.

Another twist is that those with FASD have gaps in their memory and due to their slow processing they don't always hear every word that is said so they fill in with what they think happened. Last night Joseph and Lia were picking on each other. I didn't see what happened but it was a he said/she said situation. Their stories didn't line up but both of them made sense. We were trying to figure out who was in the wrong and the story kept getting more complicated. I finally looked at Dean and said, "Remember what we just listened to the other evening? Why are we doing this?" I was referring to a video by Diane Malbin entitled The Fred Example. If you have someone with FASD in your life do both of you a favor and listen to the video. 

People with FASD are often gullible and get the bad end of the deal. Another video I listened to: FASD And Practice: Issues For Probation Officers shared this example. A group of teens takes a car for a joy ride. When they hear sirens in the distance they hand the keys to their friend with FASD and tell him to hold them until they come back, they then make a run for it. When the police arrive they find the individual affected by FASD holding the keys, patiently waiting for his friends to come back, he never realizes he was taken advantage of. 

A friend shares the story of a child who was implicated in a "crime." Eventually his name was cleared and he said, "You mean I didn't do xyz?" These children can't trust their own memory. If everyone insists they did something they assume they did. To make things even more complicated, they are very good at making up a plausible sounding story about the happening. We had this happen with Joseph he admitted to something he didn't do and we believed him because the evidence pointed to him. Later I asked him why he said he had done the deed when he hadn't and he said, "You said I did so I thought I did." That was a very sobering moment for us, I felt terrible the poor boy!

At the end of a training on a video the question was asked, "How do you go about getting a credible story from someone with FASD?" The answer was, "You may have to accept that you won't be able to get one." 


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