Challenged Hope

Grandmother raising Grandchildren with FASD in Hamilton Ontario Canada


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Compile an FASD Information File

Make life easier!

While raising grandchildren with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, I found compiling personal files for each grandchild helped when I reached out to service providers. In each file, I recorded my grandchildren’s medical appointments, diagnosis and results, attached school records such as reports and IEP’s, all school suspensions letters, their interactions with police, and sports/activity dates, etc. I also listed their strengths, what triggered their meltdowns, their behavior, and typical supports required. Files such as these take time to compile but offered me credibility in the eyes of professionals.

To read of the challenges and struggles I survived as a grandparent raising grandchildren with FAS, see my two ebook memoirs: Two Decades of Diapers, and, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years, at your Amazon store, or follow the links below.

Two Decades Of Diapers

Two Decades Of Diapers

Two Decades of Diapers. Genre/Memoir,

Ebook, Price .99 cents (usd), Ages 18+

Are you an individual with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, or a caregiver/support worker to an individual with FAS? Are you considering raising or fostering a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome? Or are you a reader simply interested in the effects of mental disorders. If so, then for these, and many other reasons, Two Decades of Diapers is essential reading. During my twenty years of raising four grandchildren with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, the temptation to run from this often uncontrollable mental disorder and all the struggles it brought into our 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 disorders. 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.

FAS: The Teen Years

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years. Genre/Memoir

Ebook, Price .99 cents (usd), Ages 18+

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 disorder caused by pre-natal exposure to alcohol. 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. Nevertheless, 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 the mental disorder 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.

Both Two Decades of Diapers, and, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years are available from your Amazon store, or the following links:

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

https://www.kobo.com

http://www.barnesandnoble.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 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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My Cat

 

Zi6_0324It’s January 5th, 2013, and my beautiful Princess died today. She was eighteen years old and had been struggling with health issues for over a year, but yesterday she began passing blood with her urine and was having difficulty breathing so I knew it was time for her to go. I arranged for Animal Services to pick her up in the afternoon and today she will be put down. It was heartbreaking to see her go as she has been with me through thick and thin and was a constant source of comfort.

I originally brought her from the SPCA when she was a kitten. My eldest son had been bugging me for a cat and, being a cat-lover myself, I found it hard to say no and so my three kids and I took a trip downtown to the shelter and, out of all the kittens there, they chose Princess. As you can see from her picture, she was a very pretty cat, but also very stubborn as cats often are, and very independent as cats often are, but very friendly, and she enjoyed being one of the family.

My strong attachment to her stems from the fact that, as we purchased her just one year before my teenage daughter became pregnant with my first grandchild, she has been in the home throughout my years of raising my mentally disabled grandchildren.

She was there when my daughter ran away from home and refused to return. She was there when my daughter returned home due to her pregnancy. She was there when I returned home after coaching my daughter through her first delivery. She was there when each of my baby grandchildren were brought to my home to live with me. She was there whenever I returned from the family courthouse during my stressful years of seeking custody of my grandchildren. She was there as I changed numerous diapers and bottle fed babies, and struggled financially and emotionally each month trying to make ends meet and to find services to help me with my grandchildren’s disabilities. She was there when the children started kindergarten through to when the three eldest celebrated becoming teenagers. She was there when I broke down after returning from the police station where my fourteen year old grandson was charged with criminal activity. She was there as I sadly packed up his possessions and saw him taken from our home and placed in foster care. She was there to watch me age and to age with me. She was there whenever I cried when feeling overwhelmed with responsibility and would climb on my lap to console me.

Only other pet lovers will know how I’m feeling today. I know I won’t always feel this way, but today is a very sad day, full of tears over the passing of my beloved Princess. I haven’t told my grandchildren yet. Instead, when they came home from school yesterday, I told them she had to go to hospital and that we would know the outcome by the end of the week. That way I have a few days to shed tears and grieve until I feel stronger and more able to be there for them when I tell them she is gone and they shed their tears.

Dear Princess, I love you so much and will miss seeing your sweet face every morning. Sleep tight – Mom.

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