I Believe In You

How you see yourself makes a huge difference in how you experience the world.

The hubby and I had our first parent-teacher interview last Friday with T’s Grade 2 teacher.

The conversation focused on T’s challenges: focusing and completing his work; avoidance behaviour like taking long bathroom breaks, and social interaction.

I felt deflated, because I went into it feeling good as we received a mostly positive progress report card a few days before.

Academically, T is progressing well, and especially well with math and science. But T’s teacher noted he needs improvement with organization, collaboration and self regulation.

None of this is surprising as his FASD diagnosis identified these three impairments.

But after some sleep and distance, I feel ok.


We’ve been through this conversation before: different year, older child, same issues. But we find a way to move beyond each speedbump.

The conversation reminded me about one of my goals – to foster self belief in T.

As an individual with FASD, this world will wear T down – more so as he gets older – whether it’s due to a lack of understanding, patience, stigma.

Even T recently shared with the hubby and I that he never has a good day at school and he’s always being bad at school.

That comment made me sad, because this is no doubt how he sees his experience at school.

I reminded T we all have bad days but T is not a bad kid. He is smart, caring, funny and a good kid.

This Fatherly articles notes that children develop self esteem as early as 5 when the brain starts to develop thought patterns known as schemas.

It further notes that experiences and feedback shape schemas and that “depending on the experiences and the feedback being given, negative schemas form and become harder to correct over time. The right messages make as big of a difference as the wrong ones.”

We do our best every day to remind T of his strengths and to build on them and his interests.

I believe in giving positive reinforcement and feedback – so long as it’s sincere and earned.

I also want T to develop a mindset of wanting to do well regardless of positive feedback or setbacks.

It’s not easy and the hubby and I struggle with his on a daily basis. We see him at his best and worst.

But we remind ourselves of how much he’s grown.

During bedtime last Sunday, T randomly said 20 + 30 = 50.

So I took it as an invitation to play a math game and gave him other questions to try, even 3 numbers, such as 10 + 20 + 40.

T enjoyed the drills and asked for it during the drive to school and every bedtime since.

What these precious moments in the dark at bedtime, with his head rested on my chest, remind me is this kid is awesome.

He just needs to remember it and we need to find and foster ways for him to believe it.

29 thoughts on “I Believe In You

  1. I read the comments and can see every side of T’s situation. My grandson is on the IAP, my cousin teaches the kids on the IAP and I used to be an independent provider. All I can say is that some day T is going to realize how lucky he was the day you both adopted him!

    1. Thanks Diane. The IEP is so important and while it’s been a bumpy Grade 2 so far, we’re thankful for all the good things that have happened along the way.

  2. Out of curiosity, were you ever able to discuss T’s diagnosis with him? I know that, for me, learning my diagnosis was critical in understanding that my struggles were not indicative of personal or moral failing, but of disability. Of course, it took time to work through my feelings about disability; however, it was better than the internalized messages about me being “lazy” or “bad”.

    1. Hi E, so nice to hear from you. We didn’t get a chance to discuss it with him. Some other issues with my larger family came up and has occupied much of our family time, energy and home life. We do plan to discuss it with T over the holidays.

      It does make me sad to think that this has been his experience with school this year. But I also do know he knows he’s very capable. So you’re right, getting an understanding of the why will make the world make better sense for him.

      Stay tuned. 🙂 Hope to have an update for you come the holidays. Hope you’re taking good care!

  3. The school seems to be doing a great job!!! I am so happy they are making accommodations. The leadership opportunity is so cool! Can’t wait to read the post! Thanksgiving was really nice. Just dropped my parents off at the airport. Back to work tomorrow! Whoo hoo! I hope you have ahad a great holiday as well. I wanted.to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving but I can’t remember if you celebrate now or earlier lol.

    1. Thanks Rebecca. It’s not perfect by any means but we don’t need perfection, just a sincere effort to help and accommodate.

      We celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving in early October. But we only get one day off. I hear you got 3 days off in the US. I like your version of Thanksgiving better!

      Good luck with the reentry to work tomorrow!

  4. Reading this post made me realize just how much work we have to do with the eduation system and FASD. I wish the teachers had honed in on Ts strengths. Yes he has things he needs to work on, and I hope the teachers are trained in FASD. Maybe the teacher can have T help them in math. Help them teach a lesson. Or something to thay effect, to make him feel confident. Even at 42? I have been at my job at this company for 5 years, and I can still forget the steps to sending a certified check, or how we are supposed to label mail. Not often, but there are days i just don’t recall the steps. For me, having a list of how to do things helps. T has so many strengths, I hope the school is making those known.

    1. Thanks Rebecca. I agree with you that the school system has so much catching up to do with FASD. I don’t get the sense there is broad awareness about what it is.

      While the conversation was focused on the challenges, we only had 15 minutes, I’m glad and thankful to say that the school is trying. T has an IEP and an EA that supports him. They also started a leadership program and had T be part of it. That’s for another post.

      The reminders are so important with people like you and T. His teacher has a visual checklist for him to help get organized at the end of the day.

      I’m hoping to do a deputation to the board next year about raising more awareness for FASD day. We can all do our part. And one step at a time.

      Hope you are having a nice weekend and thanks for always sharing your unique perspective. 🙂

  5. I love the math game, and it’s good that you paid attention to what T seemed to be interested in doing at that very moment which in the end created a happy memory for him. I hope you recover soon, Ab, so you can spend the rest of the weekend doing what you want.

    1. Thanks Bama. I have happy memories of my Pa doing the same math drills with me so it’s fun getting to be the one asking the questions now.

      It’s flu and bug season right now over here and everyone is getting sick. I rather get sick now rather than later during the holidays. Still feeling gross today but it’s raining over here so a good day to stay in bed. 😆 Take it easy over there!

    1. Thank you! I think schools definitely can do more to build around skills around emotional literacy. One of my favourite courses growing up in junior high was a course called Personal Life Management in Grade 9. I always thought it’s something that should be more widely taught.

  6. It’s wild how children start to develop self esteem as early as five, which goes to show just how important those early years in life are. I’m with you on the importance of focusing on the positives and progress, as well as having someone in your corner that believes in you. It’s a marathon and not a sprint. I love that you continue to find ways to keep T engaged and to play to his strengths. The math drills are cute, as is that note of positive encouragement! Enjoy your weekend. Linda

    1. Thanks Linda. It definitely is a marathon for sure. 🙂

      I got sick the last few days and spent most of it in bed. Boo. Still have a cough but it’s not COVID so thankful for that. So taking it easy this weekend.

      Hope you do the same!

      1. Sorry to hear that you’re not feeling well. I just woke up with a sore throat. I’d rather get sick now than during the holidays though, so hopefully this means we have some immunity for the next several weeks or so.

  7. You are giving him the best start on life you can! This sentence is very profound and probably the hardest of all to achieve “I also want T to develop a mindset of wanting to do well regardless of positive feedback or setbacks.” I believe the three of you will get there!

  8. I love what this post adds up to – that you all are coming up with the right equations for love and life! So interesting about schemas and how to foster positive ones. I think you all are doing a great job!! And I believe in you! <3 <3 <3

  9. Beautiful Ab. I believe we carry both the schemas of self doubt and self belief within us all. We always have a choice about which one to feed. It won’t be an easy journey for T, or you and the hubby, but nothing that’s worth doing is. You’re doing an amazing job Ab. Keep believing in your ability as a parent and of course Ts ability to overcome. 🙏

    1. Thanks AP. You are absolutely right that we have a choice of which schema to fill. And as parents, we have a role to play in modelling the right choices. Makes me think of your recent post as well re the flights and the drags. Hope you have a nice weekend ahead!

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