Of course we spent much of the time just getting caught up on what we and our friends had been doing. Dorothy Beckwith’s granddaughter looks to be headed for the Olympics in maybe four years. Jocie had recently talked to Ann Streisguth who told her about bicycling through Europe and playing the ukulele with a group called the “Mother Pluckers.” Glenna Andrews is still using the behavioral profile we developed to screen accurately for FASD.
The good news was that all of our kids with FAS were doing much better than we could have expected when they were fourteen. We discussed the possibility that when myelinization of the brain is complete those with FAS see an increase in executive function. This would make a good research project for someone.
We are still involved in our children’s lives. Jocie shared her joy that her son (age 39) is a great daddy. Ann’s son at age 39 has enrolled in community college. Vicki’s daughter (age 33) is married and getting along fine in her relationship. Linda’s son (age 33) stopped in to see us. He is as sweet and funny as ever. My daughter is living independently at age 39. We concluded that with proper identification and supports people with FAS can do much better than early studies indicated.
We talked a little about those supports. Money management remains a problem. Most of us are still the protected payees. Most of us had found stable housing for our kids and the other support became obvious as Linda and Vicki got numerous phone calls, or Linda called Danny to tell him, “It is time for you to call….” I had eight emails from my daughter. The married men seemed to get the type of support they needed from their wives. I’d conclude that it is a waste of time and energy to try to teach money management to someone with FAS. It is better to teach them how to find someone to help them manage money, oh, don’t give them any. It will be gone in a few hours. Better to find someone to manage it for them.
After getting caught up on our kids we retold war stories. I shared how many times I’ve told the story of Jocie getting shoved into a wall by a liquor lobbyist while another one stood on my foot. We talked about the abuse we received from professionals and politicians who should have known better. We remembered the hoards of desperate parents who came to retreats and town hall meetings or called on our hotline. We shared the success stories we’d heard from many of our friends.
Much of our talking centered around the things we have done to help ourselves heal from the trauma of supporting other loving parents living in impossible situations. Jocie talked about how her healthy grandchildren help her heal. Ann had been on an amazing intellectual and spiritual journey. Linda shared her spiritual journey with us. Vicki is still working in the disability field, so we started planning her freedom rally for when she retires. I of course talked about my books and shared insights from my years in stress management therapy.
One of the aspects of the weekend that struck me was that while we have been very successful in raising our children with FAS and in our education and advocacy, we needed healing. This weekend proved to be better than two years of clinical counseling or anything else we’ve tried.