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FASD - Sarah's Story

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Video Transcript:

In this webcast, you will listen to Sarah, a young woman with an alcohol related birth defect share her life story. She will discuss what it means to struggle through the educational system and how challenges can be turned into successes with the right support system in place.

It was just a big challenge through all of my elementary, junior high and high school years but I did make one success and that was graduating through high school and getting my diploma.
Well, since I graduated through high school first I went to college and I didn’t like it. I guess I wasn’t ready. And since I used my mom for bonding, I’m really close to her, I missed my mom and dad and I just couldn’t make it, but at least I tried.

I would like, usually go through many different jobs, like six months here, two months here, three months here. I finally, two years ago, I finally found Georgette’s, it’s called Georgette’s Grounds and Gifts. It’s a job for people with learning disabilities and they have many job coaches that you can go to and interact with, and at least I know I’m comfortable working. I prefer working with people with learning disabilities because I just know it’s not like a challenge that I always have to compete against people with non-learning disabilities because I’d feel like I stuck out like a sore thumb.

The biggest achievement in my whole entire life was three months ago when I purchased this home. I had to go through lots and lots of work. It took me two years to get this house. I had to work with a realtor. I had to work with the landlord at my other apartment. I had to go do lots of paperwork. I had to go to several meetings and take several classes through Element J. The only reason why I got this house is because I was eligible because I had learning disabilities, but also because I was qualified to be on Section 8 in Element J living. It’s called Assisted Living. I had to do lots of stuff- classes, paperwork and all the above.

I am now 26 years old. At birth I was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE), and what that is, it’s when I was inside my mom’s stomach, they told me that she drank heavily and it just messed up my head. It made me challenged and it’s harder to do things. She did drink and that’s why they diagnosed me with Fetal Alcohol Effects. At the age of sixteen, I was confirmly diagnosed with it. But, I don’t have the syndrome, but I have the Effects. It’s two different things. The Effects is when you don’t have the facial features and the Syndrome is when you do have facial features. I was lucky that I didn’t have the facial features. Being FAE, I’ve came a long way since when I was little until now. With the help and the support with my parents and stuff, I know I have learning disabilities but I don’t use it as a barrier. I work with it. And this is what you see now. I have my own house. I know how to pay my bills. I pay my bills on time. I was never late with my bills for four years. I’ve got my drivers license at 21 years old. I graduated from high school at 18 years of age. And, I’m doing just fine. I’m at my job for two years. I just want to say for everybody out there, don’t use it as a barrier. You have to work with it to succeed in life.

The people with Fetal Alcohol Effects and the people with learning disabilities and challenge, you have to be patient with them and you have to work with them one on one. You have to understand where they’re coming from because they’re the ones that have it, not you. It’s like, picture yourself being in somebody else’s body and having all the challenges that we have to go through. You just really have to sit down and think about it and work with us one on one. The best thing to do is just to be patient with them.

Get more educated, probably go to classes and stuff and learn with people that have FAE and learning disabilities. Go to seminars. Go educate yourself and you’ll come along. I came along. I was in grade school, junior high and I made it- high school and I graduated. And most people that I heard do not graduate. They’ll end up dropping out, doing drugs and stuff like that. I didn’t. I succeeded. I got this house, know how to pay my bills, and most of all, I graduated from high school and got that diploma.