Flash cards at 18?

Posted: September 10, 2011 in 2011, Flash cards at 18?, Raising Hearts

Does that sound really strange? Well it might, but I believe it is what the Lord has shown me to use for my son.

Jon is 18, but he hasn’t matured a whole lot since he was about 13 or so. He seems stuck. That is what FASD does to a person. Their brain is damaged and they can’t seem to get things like a normal brain would. I mean GET THEM. Did you hear me? Of course you did because you GET THINGS!  Not Jonny, he will appear to get things. You will think he “got it”. But then one day along the way, he will repeat the same wrong act that you thought he, got, AGAIN!

Now I know we all have things that we do, that are repetitive sins. None of us is perfect. We all struggle in areas. But you would think something that might have gotten us into serious trouble, might make an impact on our brains and we would not do it again.  I mean if you put your hand on a hot stove, get burned, suffer for days, I am betting that you look to see if a burner is on from now on.

With Jon we cannot assume because he has suffered great consequences, that he has actually learned from something that he did wrong. He might not have. His brain doesn’t seem to keep those things in memory. He forgets everything.

Have you ever walked into a room and wondered why you went there? Does that drive you crazy? It sure does me. I HATE IT when I forget what I am doing. I hate it when I can’t remember something that I was just thinking about. I love my memory. I treasure the fact that my memory works pretty good and I can keep my life organized and things done. I love to remember appointments. I never want to disappoint someone that I promised something to. Memory is very important to me.

Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a world where you can’t remember anything from one minute to the next? Imagine being who we are with good memories one day and living in that world the next? I would go crazy. It would scare me.

Not Jonny though. It doesn’t scare him. He has never known it any different. He was born that way. He can’t remember that he can’t remember.

So here was a biggie this summer. Jon had a bike that wasn’t in good shape. One day I looked out the window and saw a familiar bike out back. IT WAS MINE. I went downstairs and asked Jon, why was MY BIKE out back, where his bike usually was. He “borrowed it”. He took it out of the garage and just used it without my permission.

Well my bike was fairly new and I treasured owning this bike as it is key to helping me get myself in shape. I know I have a long way to go to get into shape, but this bike came to me in a very blessed way and I really appreciate it. I want to keep it nice and be able to use it.

Well Jon doesn’t use anything nicely. He could have gotten my bike stolen in one day, as he had no lock for it. I had no idea where my bike had traveled that day. I was so upset knowing that he carelessly just “stole” my bike and went around with it that day.

I explained to him that he had stolen a bike basically, as he didn’t have permission to ride that bike. It was no different then taking a bike from someone elses house, since it was not his bike and he had not asked me to ride it. I even imposed a fine on him that night. I wanted the message to be very clear that taking someone elses bike without asking, was a CRIME!

I knew that I had to be very strong with him on this, as Jon has a history of taking things that don’t belong to him. I mean if it had been the first time ever taking someone’s something, I would have regarded this as a mistake, but not Jon, he took people’s stuff without regard often. I am like, isn’t he ever going to get the message that this is WRONG?

So I made a really big deal about this. Yes I know kids with FASD are prone to stealing. But my kid is going to learn and that is that.


Well it should have been over. Yes it should have been. But not a month later and one day I looked out my window and low and behold, my bike was in the back yard again.  I could not believe it! I ran downstairs and jumped onto Jon with “What are you doing with my bike again?”
Oh he was going to ask me if he could borrow it.

I am like, that bike was hanging on a peg, high in the garage, where no one would touch it and you got it down and took it again, AFTER YOU ALREADY GOT FINED FOR DOING SO, just a few weeks ago???

Oh he forgot. ARE YOU KIDDING? How could you forget that? I was in shock. I made him hang the bike back up. It took me a while to get over that and I thought, surely Jon now knows that he can’t  take my bike. SURELY!

NOT!!!!!!  Well almost not. Just yesterday, Jon took off early for football. I sent Jake after him as he is not to be at the school until it is time for football and this was an hour and a half early.  So Jake brought him back and in then I find out that not only did he leave early to hang out at school, but HE TOOK JACOB’S bike, which was my old bike!!  I mean, He was told not to touch bikes in our garage when he took my bike and he is now on another bike from our garage????????  Well I about flipped out. I scolded him and sent him to his room to wait until it was time for football.

I kept stewing about that and it wasn’t until night time that I realized why I was so upset. It wasn’t that he took Jacob’s bike. It was that Jonny just didn’t seem to be learning that he could not touch our bikes. Why wasn’t he learning? After big punishments, he just did not get it.

It frustrated me and it scared me all in one. Is his brain that bad???

YES IT IS! I have to accept that my son is getting older, but not growing up like he should because his poor brain is damaged and his memory does not work. It just doesn’t.

So I started praying. “Lord, how can I help Jon?” We just can’t let him go on repeating the same dangerous things in life. I mean he has to learn that he can’t meet with girls in the night that are younger then him.  He has to learn not to take people’s bikes, which by the way, mine wasn’t the only bike he took this summer. Bikes came from near and wide and landed in my back yard. They always belonged to a friend of his blah blah…..but I always wondered if some little boy was missing his bike and it really bothered me.

We even bought Jon a brand new bike. Well Jon paid for it, but we took him to get it and we thought that would solve things, but in less then a month, his bike is missing. We still don’t really know where his bike is. He says his friend took it to his aunts house and about every day, I have asked him to get the address of where his bike is, but he keeps forgetting to do that. sigh….

So now I realize that it is not just the bikes here, that have me upset. It is that Jon isn’t registering that this is wrong and keeping it in his registry.

“Lord, how can I help Jon?  There has to be a way to get his brain to register.”

Then I could see this idea in my mind. FLASH CARDS! Yes. The same way you teach kids to read. I am going to make typed pages of things that Jon needs to learn and put them inside page protectors. Then Jon and I are going to play this game daily. He will read the flash cards and we will discuss them. Ten minutes a day with the flash cards.

Hospitals do stuff like this all the time when they are working to help an accident victim relearn how to do things if  they have brain damage. Sometimes people have to learn all over how to talk, walk, read, everything. It can be done though. The damaged brain can recover.

I know this is pioneering work with FASD, but I have to try. I have to find out if Jon’s memory can be reworked in his brain by using flash cards daily.

If this works, we can share our idea with other families who are struggling with FASD. Maybe we can help other children. I don’t know yet. All I know right now is that my son needs help and this is what I feel the Lord has shown me to do for him.  Jon deserves to have some working memory. Let’s see if this is possible.

I already have started. I don’t have the cards made yet, but today I went over things with him on two occasions. I am like, Jon repeat after me. I can’t ride any of mom’s bikes. Jon says, I can’t ride any of mom’s bikes.

Good Jonny, now say, I can’t meet girls in the middle of the night………….Jon says, I can’t meet girls in the middle of the night. Good Jonny……He didn’t mind doing that. He thought it was fun and good attention for him. lol.

Ok so it is. Flash cards for Jon….Let’s see if we can train his brain to have working memory……Praise God for creative ideas.


  1. Sarah Irvine says:

    very well said .. yest it is very frustrating!!!! I agree no matter how much is repeated about not taking other peoples things, or yelling at the dog etc. Yes she may only be 6 but i certainly noitce it !!!

  2. Sarah did you ever see the movie 50 first dates? These kids are like that. It has to be repeated daily. 🙂 Terry

  3. Ali says:

    This seems like a really great strategy that hopefully will work for Jon, especially if he learns well visually maybe even adding some pictures would be helpful? Good luck in starting this new step and I look forward to hearing how it works out.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s