It takes children with FASD longer to grow up.
My child's greatest disadvantage is that he looks normal. If you saw him on a playground, the first thing you would notice is that he is a very handsome boy. He is average weight and average height. He loves to laugh. He loves to run and play.
However, if you paused to observe him for longer than than 15 minutes you would soon change your opinion of him. You would hear him babble with giddiness and excitement. You would see him appear to tease other kids. You would watch him cut in line on the slide, throw sand in the air, pick up gum from under the teeter-totter to happily put in his mouth, and wander around talking to every stranger sitting on park benches. You would see him gravitate toward the younger children on the playground. You would see the mothers of those preschool children casting wary glances at a boy who looks so old wanting to play in the sandbox or on the baby swings. You would begin to think that he is obnoxious and unruly. You'd probably question his parents child-raising abilities. You'd find yourself wondering if he is spoiled and runs the household. By now, you're most certainly irritated that he is annoying your child.
But here's the truth: my son is dysmature, not immature. Dysmaturity means a person is functioning at a younger developmental level where immaturity suggests the capacity to catch up with chronological age. I really like this quote taken from Whitecrow Village website:
"The IQ of persons with FASD is most often within the normal range, yet they do not have the ability to meet many of society’s age based social and academic expectations. Since FASD is usually not outwardly visible, the effects of dysmaturity on persons with FASD can be puzzling to themselves and to those around them."
For example, a child with FASD who is 7 often functions as a 3-5 year old would; a child with FASD who is 11 often functions between age 7-9.
So you see, my son is being socially appropriate at his younger developmental level.
To be honest, we have no idea how far my son will mature developmentally. He may develop the same as other children, only at a slower pace (and yes... many 23 year old men act like 17 year old boys!) or he may reach a developmental age and never move beyond. Each day he wakes up and makes progress is a blessing we don't take for granted!
Please remember: Adjusting expectations to be developmentally appropriate will greatly help a child with FASD.
If this post is your first exposure to one of the many life long disabilities caused by prenatal alcohol consumption, I hope you will contact me and let me know your thoughts. As a mother of a child who will have life-long challenges I challenge you to have 0 drinks for 9 months.
I hope my posts encourage many who are living with the realities of FASD, and educates many others who are new to the disability.