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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Diaries: Obeying a Two Year Old

JuliaFuller's picture

By JuliaFuller - Posted on 12 June 2009

Today, our 34-month old daughter, asked her big sister to paint her fingernails. We paint fingernails outside, as the smell affects those suffering from asthma symptoms. Outside they went and I soon followed to feed the horses. My toddler daughter then decided that she wanted to feed the horses instead and began to follow me. However, upon arriving at the barn, changed her mind again and began calling to her big sister. I looked up and her sister was there, so I handed her over the fence. As I began to feed the horses, I heard my bossy toddler daughter yelling, “GO AWAY,” repeatedly to her big sister. As I emerged from the barn, I found the toddler in the equipment barn playing in an open bag of treated soybeans, alone.

When I asked the 15-year-old why she had left her two-year-old sister outside alone, she stated, “She told me to go away. So now, my 15 year old, FAS daughter is taking orders from a two-year-old. We have had problems in the past with her doing what the other younger children tell her, but never this young. This is one of the main reasons that I homeschool this child. I am scared to death to send her to public school since she does whatever anyone tells her, except her parents that is.

The child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, FAS, deals with ongoing processing inconsistencies that can affect every aspect of daily living. While those of us parenting FAS children understand that inconsistencies of behavior exist, that does not seem to lessen the frustrations that come with every day living. Our 15-year-old FAS daughter is really struggling with everyday functioning making current life with her very difficult.


During 15 years of fostering children for the state of Michigan, we have helped to parent nearly 100 children. We adopted a daughter who came to us as an almost four year old who is now 15, who has FASD. When she came to us, her diagnosis was cognitively impaired also known as mild mental retardation. Like so many hopeful adoptive parents, we thought it didn’t matter. We thought that with our love and every special service available she could overcome her FAS. In some ways, she has. Today she has an average IQ in the low 90s, and test in the average range for achievement when tests are given verbally. However, life still is not easy for her, or for those of us who live with her. She frequently misunderstands written words making schoolwork 3 to 4 grades lower than her age warrants, a struggle despite an average IQ. She also struggles with writing understandable sentences frequently leaving out words and using incorrect forms of verbs and nouns. We have tried numerous countermeasures over the years; however, she rarely complies with them for more than a day or two, even when they really help her succeed. It is not my intent to make fun of children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome by this blog. However, sharing experiences helps us keep parenting our FASD children in perspective. Maintaining a lighthearted attitude towards the countless mistakes makes life better for the entire family.

Photo Credit: derfel_ie


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John's picture

My 24 yo son has FAS. Judgement has always been poor. There is not much learning from past experiences. He has been a 'guest' of the Sheriff a number of times, and now will have the opportunity to be a guest of the Governor, thanks to his very poor judgement. There is a saying: we didn't cause it, we can't control it and we can't cure it. It is like being an observer on the upper deck of the Titanic as it raced through the iceburg field.

Lisa Greene's picture

I have several kids who ALL want to be the boss. Nobody in our house can tell them what to do - until the moment one of them gets into trouble for something and then it's all about, "well, she told me I was supposed to do such and such".... yeah sure. My 15 yo will let the 5 yo boss him around and whenever anyone asks about his siblings, he'll routinely state that the only one in our family he likes is the 5 yo. Go figure. The worst part (besides obvious safety issues) is that the 5 yo has more common sense on a bad day than the 15 yo has on his best day!!