As I'm sure you have read by now from my home page, I was born with the diagnosis of a heroin and cocaine addicted baby. My diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Effect did not come until I was in 5th grade. I was attending a Catholic School, CJCR. The reason for that was simply I was not accepted very well by my peers in public school. I was weird. I was awkward. I was strange and I was bullied for it. So my parents decided to shell out thousands for my tuition in hopes a Catholic school might be the cure for my woes.
It was my second year at the school and tremors were starting to effect my academics and social life. It was starting to be pretty noticeable. I was already seeing a Psychiatrist and therapist for other issues. They were throwing in the diagnosis of ADHD and Bipolar Disorder and wanted another opinion. I went to a Neurologist who performed some tests and concluded what my Mom had initially thought; that I had been exposed to alcohol in utero and were having effects from it. My Momma told me to keep my diagnosis to myself. She knew kids wouldn't understand and they didn't. I wasn't betrayed by them, though. I was betrayed by a teacher.
The class was Religion. My teacher was Mrs. Kennedy. Half way through her period I began shaking. My teacher took note of my appearance and told me go to the nurse's office with my best friend, Elizabeth. I had confided in her on our way down. Our teacher asked what the verdict was when Elizabeth got back and she told Mrs. Kennedy what I had told her. Mrs. Kennedy decided to take it upon herself to make an educational announcement on my behalf that "that is what happens when parent's do drugs". The next day I was asked if I was a crack baby. I didn't even knew what that meant yet.
I can't tell you how bad it hurts when it first gets out why you are the way you are. It's like the whole world just turned it's back on you. It's like the safety you're clinging onto for dear life is ripped out from underneath you and you're falling while everyone is jeering. I already didn't have control over my life before everyone knew my painful secret. I was already sitting in front of a mirror in my bedroom after school drawing cruel self portraits, cutting my hair, calling myself names, and crying into a blanket. Now here I was begging kids to still like me so I could have someone to sit next to at gym class or when we assembled for line up. It was a really rough year. It still to this day haunts me at how sad and lonely I was. I remember drinking Elmer's glue and eating berries from a bush in hopes it would end my life. I was only 11 years old.
What I hope for parents to take from this blog is to be open with your child's teachers and school officials. Be open with the diagnosis, what it means, what you want from them, and if you want it to be an open subject or a private subject. Most likely your child is going to share with others that they have FASD. So please equip your child's teachers and staff to what might pursue after it gets out. Have a plan of attack on how you want the teachers to address it with classmates if it does come up, and make it clear to the teacher's you expect them to fight for your child the way you are going to fight their whole life. Do not back down. Do not let the school get away with mishandling your child's diagnosis if in case they do. Stand up and protect your baby. Your child is precious and fragile.
I promise this is one of the greatest things you can do to ensure your child's school life goes by as less painful as possible.