Challenged Hope

Grandmother raising Grandchildren with FASD in Hamilton Ontario Canada

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Christmas with FASD!

What to Buy?


Buying Christmas gifts for children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is never easy, especially when they are young. I recall, one Christmas, buying a toy aircraft carrier for my eldest grandson who was six years of age at the time. The carrier came in a huge box displaying pictures of airplanes and personnel, made “gun” sounds, and included several airplanes. All plastic, of course, but guaranteed to please.

Christmas with FASD!

But on Christmas morning, as my grandchildren opened their gifts amid squeals of delight, I noticed my grandson looking perplexed at the aircraft carrier. “What is it?” he asked.

“An aircraft carrier,” I explained, suddenly aware of my mistake in assuming any six year old boy would know what an aircraft carrier is.

“What is it for?”

“For landing planes. It is a military vessel.” I set up the airplanes, showed him how to steer the carrier along the pretend sea, and set off the guns to add to the excitement. But, all in vain, as my grandson was simply not interested.

Two hours later, however, I hear a ruckus coming from his room and look in to see my two grandsons jumping onto the now flattened aircraft carrier which was quickly growing into a mess of plastic splinters.

“Look, Mom!” cried my grandson with arms spread wide, as he stood on the carrier. “I’m an airplane!”


After that Christmas I kept things simple by buying bikes, skateboards, scooters– anything that came in one piece and made mostly of metal.

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Hallowe’en and FASD

Kids with FASD enjoy Hallowe’en, too!

FASD Pumpkin

The FASD Pumpkin: Remember some Trick or Treaters have mental difficulties


Hallowe’en and FASD

When you are handing out candies this Hallowe’en, please remember some trick or treaters might have FASD and be over-the-top exuberant. So to avoid turning ghosties or vampires into real-life monsters, please check out these tips.

  1. Many children with FASD have poor vision, so keep your porch and driveway well lit to avoid tumbles on your property.
  2. Avoid growing angry if a trick or treater pushes through the crowd for candy. Children with FASD don’t always understand rules of etiquette but are afraid of being left out.
  3. Over-exuberance can cause loud noises. But they are simply whoops of enjoyment from kids rarely involved in neighborhood events.
  4. Many children with FASD function lower than their chronological age, so if some “big kids” knock on your door, don’t panic. After all, it’s only one candy.
  5. Don’t put down kids costumes. Many caregivers of children with FASD encourage them to make their own costumes. So if a vampire has green blood, or Spiderman got confused with Superman, brush it aside.
  6. Hallowe’en is a fun night for kids with FASD as they don’t need an invitation. Unlike birthday parties, it’s for everyone, so don’t get mad if they don’t say please or thank you for the candy, or run across your lawn. When overly excited to be part of the crowd, they tend to forget their manners.

Hallowe’en and FASD: Remember, FASD is no laughing matter!

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The Problem with Sensory Issues!

Sensory Issues associated with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Wake up! to FAS

Wake up to issues associated with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Sensory issues can be a real challenge for individuals with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. It’s not simply a case of the tee-shirt label irritating the skin; serious sensory issues run deep and often upset the person’s ability to complete daily tasks.

The Problem with Sensory Issues!

Hoarding is associated with sensory issues; though the hoarder is actually anything but. There is a misconception that hoarders love their possessions to a degree where they can’t let go and so begin storing and hoarding items long having lost use.

The Problem with Sensory Issues!

But my experience raising grandchildren with FAS has taught me otherwise. Hoarding comes from an intense distaste of touching used or unwashed items and so, instead of tossing the unwanted item as most people would, the individual avoids touching it, and it is left stored in their home.

The Problem with Sensory Issues!

The problem arises when the stored items become out of control. Items such as unwashed clothing, used food containers, newspapers, old furniture, etc. The build-up starts slowly and grows over years. Because hoarders are considered lazy, they don’t always get the help they need to get rid of their items, so the garbage fills the house and begins to smell. Only then is the problem recognized and the hoarder criticized for the problem, when all along, all it would have taken was for the so-called hoarder to be offered help for their sensory issues.

Two Decades Of Diapers

Barbara Studham’s memoir: Two Decades Of Diapers

The Problem with Sensory Issues!

Sensory issues are a large part of my grandchildren’s lives and often dictate their actions. Often misconstrued as defiance, sensory issues can mislead a caregiver into believing their child is refusing to clean their rooms, do laundry, or help with the dishes, but refusal comes from a difficulty in touching unclean items. Often seeing the remnants on a dirty dish or item of clothing as crawling bugs, the sensation of touching those items can leave the individual feeling nauseous. To read more on sensory issues, see my memoir: Two Decades Of Diapers, which describes my twenty years spent raising grandchildren with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

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What is a Thanksgiving turkey?

Have you ever seen a Thanksgiving turkey?

October 12th 2015 is Thanksgiving for Canadians and we have a lot to be thankful for.

Have you ever seen a Thanksgiving turkey?

Over the years I’ve seen lots of Thanksgiving people: friends, family, neighbors, and church members, all who have reason to give thanks for the special day. But I’ve never seen a Thanksgiving Turkey! It’s a misnomer, a contradiction of terms; for what Turkey would give thanks for being beheaded, roasted, and smothered in gravy?

As delicious as the meal sounds, there have been times when I’ve been called a Turkey; not only because of my sagging neck, but a turkey for raising my grandchildren; a turkey for caring too much; a turkey for believing I could help these youngsters with mental illness. Well, yes, if one looks at my situation through physical eyes, those people are probably right. But, come October 12th, while we tuck into our Thanksgiving meal, this is one turkey who will be giving spiritual thanks for the courage to “stick my neck out” and be there for children with FAS.


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A Sofa Full Of Memories

A New Sofa, A New Era!

Today, I’m getting a new sofa. My old one is twenty-two years old, sagging, food stained, crumb-filled, and most likely a bit smelly. But, oh my gosh, does that couch hold memories! I purchased it way back in l993—one year before I bought a sweet, little, black and white kitten who eventually died at the old age of twenty; two years before I discovered my teenage daughter was pregnant; three years before I took custody of my eldest grandson; six years before I had custody of my next two grandchildren born eleven months apart, and nine years before I was granted custody of my youngest granddaughter.

A sofa full of memories!

That sofa has seen a lot of activity—it’s been jumped on, screamed on, napped on, had food spilled on, climbed on, been vomited on, drawn on, watched tv from, and been timed-out on. It has had baby’s diapers changed on, Christmas and Birthday gifts opened on, and tears shed on (mostly mine).  It’s been dusted, vacuumed, and washed umpteen times. It’s been moved around rooms and moved to another house. But it’s now so uncomfortable that I had to slide a piece of wood under the cushions so I wouldn’t sink down to the floor when I sit. Even visitors avoid it.

So, it lies, a sorry sight, out in the yard waiting to be picked up by the garbage collectors. How sad it looks, as if it knows it is no longer welcome in our home. And sadly, it isn’t.

A sofa full of memories!

I can’t wait for my new sofa to arrive! It’s like waiting for the New Year’s Eve disco ball to drop in Times Square, because a new couch means a new era in life—hopefully a happy one. And, even though, my grandchildren will destroy it little by little, it too will embrace our memories as I continue to raise my grandchildren, write blog posts and books, and advocate for those with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Its only consolation being, by the time it reaches twenty-two years of age, I will most likely not be around to replace it!

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Live Webinar on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

This just in from

Hamilton FASD Parent & Caregiver Support Group!

Copied from the website:

Join Us for a Free Live Webinar: 
The Powerful Truths of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders 

This free webinar, hosted and moderated by Mike Berry of the popular site Confessions of a Parent: Hope and Humor From the Trenches, will feature:

  • Mike and Kristin Berry, co-founders of and parents of two children with FASD.
  • Dr. Ira J. Chasnoff, award-winning author and professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Illinois School of Medicine in Chicago.
  • Gabe Chasnoff, Director/Producer of the acclaimed documentary film: Moment to Moment: Teens Growing Up with FASDs.
  •  John and Nicole Goerges, parents raising two children with FASD.

Live Webinar on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Details: October 1st, 2015 at 5pm PT/8pm ET


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Event: Stoney Creek Author Festival

Memoir Reading at Stoney Creek Author Festival

To be seen at the event: Memoir Writers' Expo

Barbara Studham’s memoir: Two Decades Of Diapers

Event: Stoney Creek Author Festival

Please come out and support your local authors at the Local Author Festival

On Saturday October 3rd, 2015, I will be discussing, and reading from, my memoir:

Two Decades Of Diapers


Stoney Creek Local Author Festival.

Event: Stoney Creek Author Festival

Stoney Creek Library

777 Hwy #8, Stoney Creek, Hamilton ON, L8E 5J4

Saturday October 3rd, 2015

My Reading: 10:30 a.m.

Festival time: 10 – 3:00

Having spent twenty years raising grandchildren with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, I have a wealth of knowledge to share on this life-challenging mental illness, so please come to the festival to support me and other local authors.

Event: Stoney Creek Author Festival, Flyer

My Books


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