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>What if We Have Only Five More Years of Plenty?

June 18, 2011

>Thunderstorms and sleep disorders don’t mix. I finally settled Hope back to sleep at 4:45 AM after the 12:30 PM atmospheric conniption; she got up for the day at 7:00 AM.

Laying awake through it all, my mind replayed a conversation I had with Dorothy.

There are no hard and fast rules with FASD. But yesterday Dorothy commented on something that I have noticed, too: how common it seems for families who manage to get by with kids who have FASD to hit a wall when the child is eleven to thirteen. Dorothy and I agreed that we’re both trying to milk as much joy as we can out of these early years because later we may view these as our golden days.

Of course, my brain throws out objections to the idea that we have only five more years until Hope is eleven.

I know (via people who are close to them; I have not been privileged to meet them yet) two young adults in their twenties who are living with FASD in their communities outside their parents’ home. They don’t have police records, have never lived in a residential facility, have acquired higher education, are meaningfully employed, have friends outside their family. They take medication and have some simple, but essential supports in place to help them with deficits in areas like executive function. Stories like theirs encourage me.

The Bible is also encouraging. In it, I see that nothing is impossible with God; He is powerful and free to do what He wills. However the Bible also tells me that He often chooses difficult circumstances, not easy ones, to display His glory in this world.

Then there are statistics, if one puts faith in them. Longitudinal research on FASD that shows children who are diagnosed early (before the age of six) and who receive appropriate intervention and support from an early age have better outcomes. Hope was diagnosed at six and we have been parenting her as if she has FASD since she was three.

All of those things help balance what might sound like alarmist thinking.

Yet I’m also the mom of a neuro-typical 11 year old and can easily imagine how the first blush of hormones and the sudden desire for premature independence from parents and conformity to friends might hit Hope at the same age.

So what if the next five years are, relationally speaking, the years of plenty before a coming famine when she hits double digit age numbers? Next to God, my relationship with Hope may be the most critical resource we have. How can I capitalize on that as long as God allows it to last? How do I nurture it to encourage it to persist? (Will emotional immaturity be an asset??) What are the most important things I can teach her while I still can?

If you have any ideas, I am happy to hear them.

A few things came to mind last night that need some more thought and prayer. Chief among them is the realization that we have spent so much of her life up to now in survival mode that I haven’t had goals much higher than that. Today, with so little sleep all around, looks like one of those days. My husband and I cancelled a trip and a babysitter to compensate. But God does not arrange thunderstorms that way every night, for which I am grateful.

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