Tuesday, December 4, 2012

10 Holiday Tips for Persons Living with the Challenges of Fetal Alcohol Offered by Adult Living with Challenges of FASDs

From Liz Kulp
(adult with FASD and core network provider for young people with FASD)

I prefer my life stable... 
every day I have a plan I can maintain. 
It keeps me on track. 
When the world moves so fast around me 
it is important that I take care of myself.

  1. Make appointments on the same day and the same time. Taking a break from an appointment may be a break for you, but for me it messes up my consistency. 
  2. Shop during quiet times when the lines are the shortest. For me this is late afternoon when I have eaten and am rested. When many people are still at work and before they "stop" at the store to get supper food. I still hate standing in line. I get anxious. I impulse buy. If it is going to be busy - I take someone along to stand in line while I go to the bathroom and regroup.
  3.  Be respectful of my understanding "I don't do sarcasm" Words can hurt. When I have been hurt enough times I lash out. The problem is I don't always know when I don't understand. Most times I understand "EXACTLY" what you said - just not what you meant.
  4.  Even as an adult I have sensory issues. Fluorescent lights still make my world move around me and give me headaches. It is hard for me to sit for long periods of time without getting up. I still need to move often to remain calm.
  5. Wrap my gifts simply. All the tape and ribbons frustrate me and by the time I have opened the gift - I am less appreciative. Seriously gift bags or a filled stocking is great!
  6. Provide some of my comfort foods. There are certain things I like to eat and though I am willing to try most things my teeth and mouth still do not do carrots, celery or nuts. For me it's the crunch I can't munch. The texture I can't do. The temperature of the food also can be irritating. I know it is a sensory thing and I have tried to overcome it, but those two things still remain. Let me substitute some of my choices - I try to pick two new - and then stay with my tried and true.
  7.  Let me use a flat bowl instead of a fancy dinner plate. I will not be embarrassed because I am using a bowl, but I will feel bad if I spill food on your fancy tablecloth. My coordination is not always on task and it is easier for me to pick up my food. Give me the option of plastic glasses without stemware. Understand that if I leave the table during the meal - I may be getting overwhelmed.
  8. Know that it takes me longer to understand new events, new places and new people. When all of these things happen at the same time if can be over-stimulating.
  9. Don't speak down to me. Use normal language and stick to the facts. I love people. I love to laugh and I am a good friend to others. Take time to get to know who I really am - not by appearances or mistaken actions.
  10. I wear a tight shirt under my clothes that helps me hold it together in sensory issues. When I was a little child our family served food at a food center and Mom and I were clowns, it was fun to hide behind all the make up and bright clothes and pass out fun things for the children.
Have a Happy Holiday - find something to take care of you. We need resource people who are calm, friendly and honest in a kind way with us. 

Have a good year - Liz.