I often get asked what it’s like to have a child diagnosed with both FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) and severe RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder). Besides eating nonedible items, raging for hours, destroying property, and aggression towards others, there are other things I could share.
When we brought her home from Russia, we took her to a Pediatric Ophthalmologist. We were told she had a hyperoptic astigmatism and strabismus (that she controlled). We continued to see the specialist for several years.
A few years ago, I went to her school for an IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting to discuss her behaviors. I came prepared with research, a DVD and new ideas to try. We started the meeting and her teacher said, “we think she needs to see an Optometrist.” Surprised, I asked, “what?” The teacher said, “an optometrist is an eye doctor.” I said, “I know what an Optometrist is. She’s been seeing a Pediatric Ophthalmologist. What’s wrong?” The teacher said, “we think she’s blind in her left eye.” Shocked, I told them she’s not blind in either eye. I couldn’t convince them so I had them bring her to the room so I could prove she wasn’t blind in either eye by having her read with both eyes individually. Yes, our daughter had successfully convinced them she was blind in one eye!!
Fast forward to 2015. She had decided she liked the look of eyeglasses and wanted some so she faked her eye exam while in residential treatment. I bought her some cute frames she loved with her prescription lenses. She loved them until she put them on. Guess what? She couldn’t see with them because she didn’t need prescription glasses! She got angry because she couldn’t see so she stomped on them until she broke them. She also broke glasses of other kids but that would be a whole new blog post.
Fast forward to August 2016. She had beeen at Jasper Mountain school for a few weeks and admitted to me she faked the exam before and just wants glasses because they’re cool! I explained that some stores have vanity glasses without a prescription. It was a very big deal that she acknowledged what she did the year before and was able to express her feelings of wanting something and feelings of anger when she put the glasses on but couldn’t see. She even realizes that her actions (fakingvthe eye exam) lead to her having glasses she couldn’t see out of- and her anger lead to her stomping on them and breaking them. I waited a few months after this admission and then mailed her some non-prescription “vanity glasses.” She looks adorable in them and can see when she wears them.
This is just one small way of explaining what this life is like.
Amanda Alexander, M.B.A.
Founder and Special Needs Advocate
Adoptive Parents Persevering (APPS)