One THINK at a time, PLEASE?

Posted: March 29, 2013 in 2013, One THINK at a time. PLEASE?, Raising Hearts




Organization!!  OMG!  I hope this isn’t a book, as I could say so much about this area of the brain that cannot function right with our kids that have FASD.  I honestly think Memory and Organization are the two biggest reasons that our kids cannot function well on their own, as adults.

I have seen maturity in lying, stealing, and even in raging, arguing etc. But I don’t see change in their abilities to keep their lives organized, do more then one given task at a time, or manage appointments etc.

If we think about this function of the brain, we can see that it effects every area of our lives.  Daily we manage our lives by a process of planning. We know that certain things need to get done to keep our lives in order and if not done, eventually something or someone will suffer.

We have jobs to do, homes to keep up, yards to take care of, children to care for, appointments to meet and even general fun and relaxation requires organizing to plan for it.

Most jobs require a certain amount of organization skills and the ability to multi task.  Some can become redundant and repetitive and our kids can sometimes manage those types of jobs, but even then, keeping track of a work schedule, getting up on time for work and planning time to get ready for work, all require organization skills.

Ok, so my child starts our as a youngster who keeps a messy room, and doesn’t always keep up with other kids at school work, doesn’t learn as fast etc. and someone thinks this kid is lazy.  Yes, I can understand why you might think that. I thought that about my kids often. I didn’t know why they were not getting that stuff needed to be organized, that homework needed to be turned in the next day or that simple tasks that I sent them on, rarely got done.

In fact they most often lost the homework between here and school. I didn’t understand that myself when my kids were growing up, so I told the teachers that we had a homework monster at our house who eats homework. 🙂

I was learning how to repeat and repeat, but I didn’t know my kids had a brain injury, so I just got frustrated with them. Gosh what a relief it was for me to learn and understand what alcohol has stolen from their brains and why they operate the way they do.

So after years of frustration, here is what I now understand. My kids cannot be told a successive list of things to do. They won’t get past the first thing you told them, due to slow processing and they won’t remember all the list, due to memory damage.

They can’t organize it all in their brain as they live in the very moment, don’t plan ahead much and when they do, they often forget what their plans were.

Are you with me? Imagine this for a minute. Someone comes to you at your job and says “Today you need to wipe down all of these shelves, organize the books on these certain shelves, put away all the books in that cart over there and log all the missing books on the computers.”. I guess you now know that you work at the library. lol.

Does that sound too hard for you?  It doesn’t to me. I might write all the tasks down on a piece of paper though, so I know I won’t forget them, but as my boss has just told me this, I have mentally looked at the shelves that are dirty, the books that need organized, and I know where the cart is of books that need to be put away.  I understand the computer, as I work on it daily.

Well now try to think like your child with FASD. The boss just told you all of this and you were thinking about the dirty shelves when he said all the rest. You never got past the dirty shelves. You went to clean the dirty shelves and didn’t remember anything else, so you saw something in the corner that caught your attention and started reading those books. WHOA you made the boss mad and you got fired!

This is what I see happening with my kids that have FASD. They rarely get past the first instruction and if I really want them to do the rest of the work, I need to give them each step to do, and often I actually need to stand their and see that they do it.

How are they going to take care of a home, car, job, property,  children, etc. without that external brain who is instructing them step by step daily to do those tasks? AND I DO MEAN the same tasks EVERY SINGLE DAY!

For instance, my daughter Desi who is 18 does not yet know how to do dishes. She understands how to wash a dish, but there are steps to washing dishes such as putting them away after, washing off the dirty counters, cleaning the food out of the sink, rinsing out the dish cloth etc. and I have to give her those steps every single day or they will not get done. I mean that I honestly have to stand there and direct her to do the counters and then on to the food in the sink and then to rinse the cloth etc. and you would think that after doing this a few times, she would have mastered it? NOT!  Sigh…….But, since I now understand why, I am the one who has to be patient and retell her these steps daily. Trust me, this has change me in a big way.  I cannot get upset. I have to understand.

BUT my poor daughter who is extremely articulate and looks so together to the rest of the world, is always embarrassed when she falls short in these areas to other people who will condemn her and not understand or be patient. I mean she looks smart, RIGHT? EVERYONE THINKS SHE CAN DO THIS!  NO one gets that she needs help and most think that I am the mother hen who won’t let my daughter go blah blah blah…….So not only do I need to help my daughter, but I have to stand against the rest of the world who does not get FASD and continue to do what I know is right, regardless of what they think!

This same problem is in her room. If I ask her to clean her room, she makes piles that include dirty and clean clothes and trash, all mixed together. This makes me sad still. How will she be able to even do the simplest chores for a marriage one day? Will someone need to stand with her and direct her every single day on how to keep a house clean and not have the health department on her case?

I am just being honest folks. This is real. We watch hoarder shows on TV and we think, wow how did they get like that? I would be willing to bet a lot of hoarders have FASD. It is more then just keeping stuff. I guess I am a hoarder in certain areas. I keep lots of art supplies, collect dolls and teddy bears and love crafting. BUT, all my hoards are so neatly organized that I can find stuff. I can enjoy my stuff.

I honestly can’t see how my kids are enjoying the things that they have when they wind up under heaps. I am not a professional on the brain and what takes place to create a thought every time one has to be created.

However I am told that when a birth mom drinks in pregnancy, that brain cells in the baby die. I am told that this creates holes in the brain and causes the brain to literally collapse down on these holes. I think God created our brain some what like a computer with electric circuitry. If I can put this idea into my imagination, the brain is supposed to have a thought that travels and connects with other thoughts. There is a purpose in how our thoughts are organized in our brain. It all works together for a purpose and a plan. We are awesome how we are created.  Our brains are far more beautiful and powerful then any computer on this earth.

But if you take away sections of that brain, then I imagine that those connections are missing. The way God planned for that brain to work, now it cannot connect properly. It has to find new routes or paths to cross and I think some of the bridges are just totally out in the child’s brain with FASD, so those thoughts never get to their destiny. They just cannot go there.

These kids will LOOK like they are getting what you have said. They will even acknowledge that they heard you and will do it, but then not carry it out. Honestly people need to understand that this is a totally honest case of CANNOT, not WON’T!

If we never get that, we are always expecting more from them, then they can possibly do and we will be the frustrated ones. The greatest thing that has helped me in this area, is to accept that they are honestly not able to do these things without additional directions, support and follow through.

Is our world going to understand this? NO! NO! NO! SAD!  We are going to have to educate our world for our kids because even they don’t understand it themselves. They are frustrated with themselves often. They will fail and know that they failed but not be able to do a thing about it. They will get dealt with  harshly by some folks in their world.

This effects every area of their lives. Their jobs, relationships, their homes, the ability to raise children………..OMG! It is scary how much it can and will effect them.

WHY? WHY are we allowing our world to continue to damage our people with a legal drug called alcohol? Why are we not sounding an alarm???????????  This is HUGE!  The more people we damage, the more people we have that can’t work, have to live on welfare, are in jail, or on the streets.

Wake up world!  We need to educate! We need commercials on TV about FASD! TV shows!  Wow~!

That frustrates me more then my children’s suffering, but I do know that God has to provide for them in life and one provision that Desi and Jon will always need is an external brain. Someone who can help them keep their lives organized, help them remember.

Our kids can be quite successful in life if they have an external brain who is committed to being there for support.

Lord please always make sure my kids have that someone.

Terry Quinn

  1. lynda says:

    your blog is such a wealth of knowledge as there is so little understanding out there of FAS

  2. Ally says:

    I know that you and I are in similar places with our daughters. I am thankful for each day that passes successfully and I try to remember we have more of those now than the others. It’s just that when a bad day hits, it hits one OUT of the ballpark!!! My goal is to NOT ride her roller coaster life. She gets me going and then gets off at the next exit, and I am still going up and down and round and around. I’m working on getting off at that next exit with her, and then will work on not ever getting on the roller coaster. It’s her ride, I’m just the ride attendant and if I can remember my place life would be better for all of us.

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