Challenged Hope

Grandmother raising Grandchildren with FASD in Hamilton Ontario Canada


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Great Expectations

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is preventable, not curable.

FASD 2016

FASD 2016. Speak Up, and make this year the last year for FASD.

 

After twenty years of raising four grandchildren with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, my care-giving duties are winding down and will eventually end. For my grandchildren, however, FAS will never end. For their entire lives, they will wake up each day facing mental illness. My heart cries for them, especially when FAS is preventable.

Great Expectations

Societies’ expectations for individuals with FAS to overcome the challenges associated with mental illness and achieve success are considerable. However, despite my intense care-giving, their special education, and services they receive for people with mental disabilities, every day, my grandchildren struggle to fulfill the basics of daily living, let alone have the ability to reach some idealized expectation placed upon them by the world. Why waste time setting far-fetched goals for people with FAS? Instead, learn about the disability, their individual needs, complex behaviors, social skills, and learning disabilities, and, despite the limitations of mental illness, strive to make them feel worthwhile within their communities.

My Memoirs

For a limited time, my two memoirs describing the twenty years I raised my grandchildren with FAS, are FREE to download to an e-reader from my website:

http://www.twodecadesofdiapers.com.

They are also available to purchase from Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and other ebook distributors.


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Is Writing On Your Mind?

Stop thinking about it, and start writing!

Do you live in the Hamilton/Wentworth area? Is writing on your mind, or is it your passion, or simply something you would like to try? Come out to Turner Park Library’s Live Writing Workshop, hosted by Viga Boland, author of No Tears For My Father. Discover the poet, memoir-ist, blogger, or fiction-writer in YOU.

Is Writing On Your Mind?

This workshop is for all writers of all genres but, if you, like me, are caregiver to a child with FASD, then I know you have a lot to say. So, come to the session and write it out. It won’t hurt, and might even help. If you have not written anything before, then this is a great place to begin. It you write every day then you will have a lot to share. Either way, the session will offer interest and diversity.

I hope to see you there!

Where:  Turner Park Library, 352 Rymal Road East, Hamilton , ON L9B 1C2

When: Mondays, April 18th & April 25th

Time: 1:00 – 3:00 pm

Host: Viga Boland

To contact Viga for information, visit:

http://www.vianvi.com

http://www.memoirabilia.ca

http://www.vigaboland.com


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FASD: Changing Viewpoints

That Was Easy!

This is a long post, but anyone caring for an individual with FASD will find it encouraging!

FASD: Changing Viewpoints. 

I recently invited three friends to attend the Hamilton (Ontario) FASD Caregiver Support Group, hosted by Mark Courtepatte and Savanna Pietrantonio. The group meets on the last Saturday of each month, and is attended by caregivers and guardians of children and teens with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Its informal environment allows for the exchange of frustrations, references to services, discussions of prayers, hopes, and dreams for the children, the release of anxiety, and the reassurance that one is not alone in raising children with FASD.

On my invitation, my friends graciously agreed to attend. Though they knew little of FASD going in, when the session began, it took only minutes for their eyes to be opened to the realities of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and how it plays out for the majority of families. Here, in my friends’ own unedited words are their thoughts on how that group meeting affected them.

Heather… “Glad you could make it,” said Barbara, as I walked into the conference room and took a chair beside her.  Barbara had invited members of our writing group to attend her monthly group support meeting. It was my first time at an FASD meeting. I thought I knew what to expect. The room soon filled to the brim with parents, grandparents, and young teens. A family sat next to me; Mom, Dad and two daughters. The girls were loud, boisterous, and unsettled.  They twirled in the rotating chairs, bumping my chair as they fidgeted. They couldn’t sit still for more than a few minutes. When the meeting began, they giggled and talked to each other, instead of keeping a “respectful” silence.

Wow, I thought to myself, if these girls acted like this in church, or at a school play, or somewhere else, I would have ‘tut-tutted’ and been annoyed their parents didn’t discipline them. Maybe I would have thought they had ADHD. I may have assumed the girls had not been taught “civilized” manners by their parents. But because I knew their condition, I simply sat quietly and accepted them.  I didn’t know much, but I knew FASD children had behavioral issues.

However, I didn’t know those girls were jumping out of their skins in that conference room. I didn’t know that crowds, loud noises, changes to daily routines and strangers made it impossible for them to remain quiet. I didn’t know they left the room to get relief from the atmosphere they were in. I didn’t know it was a coping mechanism they used to keep themselves from unraveling. It seems I knew little to nothing about the behavioral issues of FASD children.

I soon learned how difficult the job of an FASD parent is. Discipline, I discovered, is the exact wrong thing to use. Yelling at a child with FASD increases the problem. Quiet reasoning, understanding and respect are required. Repetition is necessary to teach daily routines and consequences. Vigilance is needed to keep the children safe, because FASD kids lack the ability to fully understand the ramifications of their actions. I had no idea the strength and tenacity it takes to be a parent of one of these children.

“The mental healthcare system needs major training in the area of FASD treatment,” said the facilitator of the group. “Misdiagnosis is rampant. Doctors often lack the knowledge to differentiate FASD from ADHD, autism, and other conditions. Medications used to treat these other conditions are drastically wrong for kids with FASD. Changes are coming slowly as the medical field starts to understand what parents of FASD children have been saying for years.”

How was it possible that doctors knew little more than I did? And not only doctors! Teachers, caregivers, social workers and adoption agencies are woefully under-educated about this syndrome. The public, too, is drastically uninformed. Changes are coming in these areas, but once again, time is crawling by. Parents are left to lobby for funding and assistance, to educate the public and to support each other until the changes come. Parents and children of FASD have been suffering alone and misunderstood for decades, perhaps for centuries. I say centuries, because I also learned that FASD can manifest itself in a child across three generations. And the condition can come through the father or the mother. I had often misjudged mothers of FASD children. I thought I knew it all about those mothers. They must have drunk alcohol throughout their pregnancies. How could they be so careless, selfish and neglectful?

Well, guess what? Even one drink may be enough to cause FASD in an unborn child!  And that drink may have passed the lips of the mother or the father. I was astounded to learn that any of us on the earth could be affected, since it is certain that very few had parents, grandparents or great-grandparents who never imbibed a single glass of alcohol. No, I didn’t know much about FASD at all, until I attended that FASD support group. I listened in awe to the stories, challenges and advice discussed by those who are passionate about and affected by FASD. I learned a lot. But, the most important thing I learned is that it is so very easy to pass judgment while living in a world shrouded in ignorance.  It’s a lesson I won’t forget… Heather.

Viga… I recently attended an FASD group meeting that dispelled any illusions I had about the long-term, very harmful effects of drinking alcohol while pregnant. I was unfamiliar with FASD until I read Barbara Studham’s remarkable book, “Two Decades of Diapers”. What I read there both concerned and shocked me, especially since I have a teenage granddaughter who has always exhibited many characteristics of FASD children. As so many parents and doctors do, I had put her often-upsetting behaviours down to ADHD and/or Dyslexia.

After attending the FASD support group, my suspicions were confirmed: I learned that a mother, even having just one drink when she doesn’t yet know she’s pregnant runs the risk of having a child with FASD. Sadly, I now have to conclude that my dear granddaughter may indeed be an FASD child, not ADHD. At that meeting, if was further upsetting to learn from parents of FASD children that the medical profession is far from enlightened about FASD and prescribes meds for ADHD instead. This is unacceptable!

My friend, Barbara Studham’s books: Two Decades Of Diapers, and, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years, will shed much needed light on this issue. I highly recommend that groups interested in knowing more about FASD read Barbara’s books. This is a woman who has lived with what she now writes about to help others. Invite her to speak to your groups. The child you help may well be your own… Viga

Karen… My knowledge of FASD was very limited until I had the opportunity to visit a meeting of the Hamilton FASD support group. I learned that although most children with FASD ‘look normal’ they do have issues with attention span, behavior and authority. I also learned that there are various degrees of FASD and that all have been recently acknowledged under the umbrella of FASD. Some children with FASD are very bright and do well in school academically but are emotionally exhausted by the end of the day resulting in ‘melt downs’ at home. These children require a lot of ‘one-on-one’ sessions to understand and control their outbursts. Others are bullied because they don’t fit the norm and have learning difficulties.

It was interesting to see the working companion FASD dog in-training brought to the group by an attendee with FASD. This puppy was progressing so well that he diffused two melt-downs during the meeting. This dog had just returned with his trainer from an FASD conference where, we were told, he sat patiently through the full two days of meetings.

All the parents attending the support group appeared to be adoptive parents who were championing for these children. They are advocating for diagnostic testing, support to work with the children, and education of the public. This was relevant for me as I’m involved with a Youth Leadership Program and need to be aware of the possibilities affecting personalities… Karen.

Changing Viewpoints

From the above comments from my friends, you can imagine my delight at their learning so much about FASD from only one group meeting. This proves that getting information out on FASD is vital. So let’s get it in the medical community; schools; the workplace; on social media; in women’s group; community meetings, and anywhere else possible! Tell your friends, family, colleagues, and anyone else you know about the problems related to drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

If you would like more information on the Hamilton (Ontario) Caregiver Support Group, please visit this website:

Hamilton FASD Parent & Caregiver Support GroupWebsite:  http://hamiltonfasdsupport.ca 

email: Hamilton.FASD@gmail.com 


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FASD: Consider the Consequences

I didn’t mean to do it!

FASD 2016

FASD 2016. Speak Up, and make this year the last year for FASD.

Consider the Consequences. Individuals with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome don’t always realize that actions have consequences, nor learn easily from their mistakes. Mental disorders are tricky; often causing the individual to either disregard their safety, or not realize there is a safety issue to consider.

One example of this is when children with FAS grow into youths and learn they are not welcome within popular friendship circles. Desperate to form their own friendships, they are often taken advantage of by those who sense their despair. These individuals can be anyone: gang members, drug dealers, sexual predators, addicts, alcoholics; anyone who knows how to use vulnerable children.

The youth has no idea of the perpetrator’s intentions which are to have their selfish needs met. The youth is simply overjoyed to have friends who appear to care and will do anything to keep the friendship alive. Unfortunately, this often involves breaking the law and/or being sexually used, and abused.

Consider the Consequences. Over time, the youth becomes so ensconced in that way of life that any semblance of normality is discarded. Their “friends” encourage them to thumb their noses at the law, use illegal drugs, carry weapons, and do unnatural things to their bodies. The youth often ends up in jail, often for their own crimes but more likely through covering for the criminal acts of others.

Consider the Consequences. If you are pregnant, or are planning a pregnancy, please stop drinking alcohol now. It is the only defense against your child having Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and possibly growing up to a life of crime, loneliness, and despair.

DOWNLOAD FREE from my website: www.twodecadesofdiapers.com: My two memoirs describing my twenty years raising four grandchildren with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Two Decades Of Diapers

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years

My Websites:

www.challengedhope.com

www.twodecadesofdiapers.com

Author, Barbara Studham's Collage of Books

See all of Barbara Studham’s books at http://www.twodecadesofdiapers.com and http://www.amazon.com

 

See All My Books, memoir and fiction, available from:

http://www.twodecadesofdiapers.com

http://www.amazon.com/author/barbarastudham

https://www.store.kobobooks.com

http://www.barnesandnoble.com

Other fine ebook distributors


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FASD Podcast

Hear My Radio Interview!

FASD Art Waves Radio Podcast

Hear my FASD Art Waves Radio Podcast

It was my privilege to be interviewed live by Art Waves radio host, Bernadette Rule, on Sunday, March 13, 2016, on the subject of FASD and also my memoirs: Two Decades Of Diapers, and, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years, plus my novellas. My two memoirs are FREE to download to an e-reader from my website,

http://www.twodecadesofdiapers.com

My memoirs and novellas are available from

http://www.twodecadesofdiapers.com

Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and other ebook distributors

Follow this link to my FASD Podcast:

https://archive.org/details/279BarbaraStudhamMar.132016

and discover the wonderful opportunity Bernadette gave me to voice my experiences raising four grandchildren with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome; the mental health disorders caused by mixing pregnancy and alcohol, and the FASD resources available in Hamilton/Wentworth, ON, including the Hamilton FASD Caregiver Support Group. I also spoke on the gaps in services for caregivers raising children with FASD, and my upcoming event on FASD Awareness with speakers Mark Courtepatte and Tim Groenewegen at Turner Park Library in Hamilton, ON, on March 24th at 7:00 pm. We hope to see YOU there!

Download my two memoirs on FASD for FREE from http://www.twodecadesofdiapers.com.


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FASD: Interrupting Conversation

Hearing Their Voice

FASD 2016

FASD 2016. Speak Up, and make this year the last year for FASD.

FASD: Interrupting Conversation. Many individuals with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome interrupt when people are talking. Often the interruption is loud and urgent with no similarity to what is being discussed. Feeling ignored, they intrude on others’ conversation to attract attention, but they are then left wondering what to say. If the people initially speaking are unaware of their mental disorder, they see this intrusion as annoying.

FASD: Interrupting Conversation

But, such an intrusion should be managed with a smile and an invitation to join in the conversation. The initial discussion can be resumed later when the individual is reassured they are not being ignored. Feeling overlooked can frighten an individual with a mental disorder as it can be perceived as permanent; hence, their anxious interruption. But, when the attention is turned toward them, they panic equally over the limelight and expectation of having something important to say. This often results in them blurting out a triviality or even nonsense. It is, of course, then up to the able-minded person to take what is said and run with it to make a conversation, thereby putting the individual at ease and assured what they say is important.

FASD: Interrupting Conversation

When speaking with an individual with FAS or any mental illness, avoid asking questions as they can become frustrated at not knowing how to answer. Instead, say something along the lines of—“It is very cold today. I need to make sure I wear my hat and gloves when I go out. I noticed that you have gloves in your pocket; good for you. That’s a wise decision.” But don’t expect an answer, rather a reaction, as the child will most likely pull the gloves from their pocket and put them on. Then you can say—“I like your gloves. They look very warm. I have nice gloves too. Look at the snowflake on the front. I chose them because I particularly like snowflakes.”

At the time, you might think your conversation was meaningless to the child, but you can be assured that next time he/she is bought gloves, he/she will insist they have snowflakes on them—just like the snowflake man/woman that you will be remembered as.

The simplest kind act of chatting and laughing with a child with FAS can have an enormous positive outcome, so don’t think your time has not made an impression. By the same token, shunning or ignoring the child influences them negatively.

Download for FREE my two memoirs:

Two Decades Of Diapers

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years

from my website

http://www.twodecadesofdiapers.com 

Two Decades Of Diapers

Barbara Studham’s memoir: Two Decades Of Diapers

Two Decades Of Diapers. Are you an individual with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, or a caregiver/support worker to an individual with FAS? Are you considering adopting or fostering a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome? Or are you a reader simply interested in the effects of mental illness. If so, then for these, and many other reasons, Two Decades of Diapers is essential reading. During my twenty years of single-handedly raising four grandchildren with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, the temptation to run from this often uncontrollable mental illness and all the struggles it brought into my world, was significant. Despite my grandchildren’s strengths, their Fetal Alcohol Syndrome caused severe behavioral issues, eventually overwhelming my parenting abilities resulting in a breakdown of the family unit I had fought so hard to maintain. Offering an insight into the challenges of FAS, Two Decades of Diapers is a down-to earth, no holds barred reference to the struggles associated with mental illness. In my memoir, I describe the challenges my adopted daughter with FAS endured, her teen pregnancy, how I became a grandmother raising grandchildren, and the crises, shattered dreams, and strength and love we share. FREE to download! Also available in paperback from http://www.twodecadesofdiapers.com.

FAS: The Teen Years

Now Available: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, The Teen Years. Barbara Studham’s memoir sequel to Two Decades Of Diapers

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years.  Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years is the sequel to my first memoir: Two Decades Of Diapers. In each memoir, I give insight into how family life can be ruthlessly disrupted by behavior disorders caused by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: a mental illness caused by pre-natal exposure to alcohol. I spent twenty years raising grandchildren with FAS. Through my wealth of experience with the disorder, I lead the reader through my desperation, fears, hopes, and prayers while coping with my grandchildren’s teen years.

However, I would be the first to admit that while FAS brought a whirlwind of emotions into my life, my grandchildren’s struggle to cope with mental illness far outweighs any trauma I have endured. Often labelled defiant, odious, caustic, and wayward, individuals with FAS are more victims of brain damage overwhelmed by the demands of everyday life, than the disposable people society deems them. If you are an individual considering adopting or fostering a child with FAS, a mental health worker, or someone who is interested in learning more about this distressing disorder, then Two Decades Of Diapers, and, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years are essential reading and FREE to download from my website: http://www.twodecadesofdiapers.com

See my Fetal Alcohol Syndrome playlist on Youtube.com


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Upcoming Events

Watch for these upcoming events!

  • Upcoming Event: Sunday, March 13th 2016. 7:00-8:00 pm

I will be speaking about my memoirs and FASD on ARTWAVES: a live radio broadcast from Mohawk College. ARTWAVES is an arts interview radio program which airs live every Sunday, from 7-8 pm, at 101.5 FM. Google “l0l5 The Hawk” to listen to the program in real time, or listen to podcasts at archives.org/details/artwaves.

  • Upcoming Event: Thursday, March 24th 2016, 7:00-8:30 pm

I will be hosting an FASD event evening at Turner Park Library, Hamilton, Ontario. Speakers will include Mark Courtepatte and Savanna Petriano from Hamilton FASD Caregivers Support Group, and Tim Groenewegen, a special needs educator with the HWDSB. Together we hope to bring information, guidance, and support to those interested in learning about FASD, its symptoms, challenges, and services. Event is free.

Download my two memoirs for FREE from my website

http://www.twodecadesofdiapers.com

Two Decades Of Diapers

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years

Also see me on Youtube

Twitter: @barbarastudham

 

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