Geraldine Kirkaldie, mother of a daughter diagnosed with FASD:
I'm a recovered alcoholic, so I haven't had a drink for coming up 12 years now, and Lola is coming up 14, so that will give you an idea of what was going on.
For many years I was worried, about, you know, does she have FASD? I'd look for indicators, but I never knew for sure.
And then things changed for Lola pretty rapidly when she hit high school, and I took her to a paediatrician and that paediatrician let us know about the clinic, and I thought, okay, it's time to take it out of the dark and into the sunlight. I can't be alone with this. And so I brought Lola in, and she went through everything and we got a diagnosis, and from then things have really looked up.
Yeah, oh it was hard, it was horrible and it was a dark, dark time for me, and I was, right from the word go, very, very worried. And I think mothers carry around this shame, this terrible, horrible shame, it's unutterable, you know. And it was an overwhelmingly positive experience, I sort of came in feeling a lot of shame, and then left here feeling, why am I feeling ashamed? I'm no more ashamed of this than I am that I'm an alcoholic - recovered, you know, and very, very fortunate to be so.
Lola, Geraldine’s daughter:
The amount of times I thought I was just this, like, dumb kid who didn't understand how to fit into a certain society, like I'm a kid who can't, you know, just be like any other child and I think that's like - obviously the other kids in that school didn't understand so they just picked and poked and made fun of me and said, oh, you're not a functioning member of this school.
Same with the teachers, they said well why can't you do this, it’s that easy, why can't you just do it? I don't know. I can't do it. And now that I'm here, there's an answer to why I can't and that's just like... a relief. It's, you know, just how I am now and it's just how I have to live at this moment and I'm actually a lot happier now in a different school with now an understanding mother and a perfectly safe environment, it's a lot better now than it was last year. So certainly the clinic has helped so much.
I would say to parents who are worried, adoptive or biological, don't hesitate. Don't hesitate. Once upon a time things like ADHD and autism weren't discussed, those children were hidden too, and today we wouldn't dream of such a thing. So I would say let's stop hiding young people and children who are born with FASD, and let's start looking at it a different way. And to do that we've got to take away the shame, and we've got to stand up and say me too. Yeah, that, you know, lives can be changed, I know ours certainly has, and yeah, come out of the darkness and into the light and your life will change too and so will the lives of your children.
Yeah, any people who feel that they're mad at their mother for, you know, oh you've given me FASD, I'm permanently ruined – you are not. You're just perfectly imperfect.
Yeah, perfectly imperfect.
With some, you know, amazing person who's raised you and tries to take care of you, having your back despite having a bit of a mistake. That's fine.
Isn't that amazing?