My Life with FASD
My name is Francis Perry.
I am a thirty-two year old Mi’ kmaq First Nations man living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). I was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrom at the age of nineteen. In 1975 when I was adopted at the age of three FASD was just a label, and no one understood this invisible disability. FASD is caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. My mother drank when she was pregnant.
Early Years: Part of the disability was that I was
so hyperactive my parents could not believe it, and
wondered how to turn me off. I was so hyper my Aunt
had to take me to the beach to run off extra energy so
my mom could get some rest.
School came and was a complete nightmare for my
teachers and myself. Because I was so hyper I was a
distraction for the class, not realizing that they were
just as a big distraction for me. I was punished and
soon they built a three-sided box to help me be less of
a distraction to the class. But what ended happening
was that I could not interact with my classmates. How
do you think I interacted outside of the class? I was
tormented, spit on, humiliated and teased. I never
understood how or why I was the one that ended up
getting blamed for starting it and getting into trouble.
Private School: My parents
were told about a private
school that specialized in
learning disabilities. They
thought that private school
would be a good place for me.
At that time
I had been put on Ritalin, a drug for my hyperactivity.
The school told my parents that no children at the
school were on any medication. Within a week they
were calling my parents begging for the Ritalin. After
another week they called my parents back and asked
them to, “Come and get your kid”.
High School: I had moved on to high school, wich I
was not ready for. In high school we had to change
classes for every subject, going to our lockers,
grabbing books and ? nding the right class room was
hard. Trying to ? gure out where to go, the constant
movement and the noise of the hall really threw me off.
This was overwhelming for me, for I could’nt think. I
was often in trouble with treachers. Highschool turned
into community college with a grade six education and
turned out to be as frustrating as highschool.
Trouble With The Law: Things at home were pretty
intense, so my parents took a vacation to Prince
Edward Island, leaving me home alone. One night
my ? rends and I broke into a canteen and stole pop,
chips, bars and cigarettes. Well I am not the brightest criminal, I left a trail of candy bar wrappers all the way
to my door from the canteen, which the police followed.
By the time I was a teenager I managed to set a ? re,
get into trouble with the law, and found myself in jail
feeling like a failure. Everything that I did I failed at
and became very depressed. By this time in my life
I managed to get kicked out of ? ve schools, private
school and Teen Challenge (which was for troubled
teens.) At this time I was thinking about suicide.
Community: When I got out of jail, I was introduced to
a religious commune, and it was here that I found hope
because they really cared about me. I spent four years
with them, learning many things. They taught me how
to meditate, which taught me patience. They moved
away and I decided to look for my biological family. I
ended up in Halifax, Nova Scotia living on the street for
about a year and a half.
One day I went to the Friendship Centre in Halifax
where I was introduced to Della Maguire and that lead
me to getting diagnosed with FASD. With the help of
Della the diagnosis would explain why I do some of
the things I do, why I ? nd some things just too hard to
? gure out and why I felt like a failure.
Diagnosed: Getting diagnosed was like a weight lifted
off my shoulders. Now I know I have a problem and
that I am not the problem. Before I was diagnosed I had
nothing to work with I didn’t know how to express what
I was feeling or how I even felt. I was quick to react to
a problem before I thought things out. I had no ability to
comprehend the consequences of my actions. All I had
were feelings of hatred, anger, bitterness, resentment
and fear. And my thoughts I feared most, constantly questioning my existence and swamped with thoughts
of suicide. I now have something to work with, I know
what my limitations are. My life has been a journey.
On My Own: Currently I am living on my own in Truro,
Nova Soctia. Although most of the time my struggles
cannot be seen they are still there. Telling time,
counting money, math, grocery shopping, cooking
and laundry are a few of the areas that I have trouble
with. I have a poor memory and can’t remember
phone numbers or names, so I have a watch that has
a date book, an alarm and a calculator to use when I
go shopping for groceries. I go shopping late at night
because less people are at the store and I can think
clearer. With my calculator I know how much my
groceries will cost before I get up to the checkout.
I now work for Mi’kmaq First Nation Healing Society as a
guest speaker. I share my story to help others know that
there is hope and there are people out there to give you
support. Della has been my support for the past eleven
years. She is a national presenter on Fetal Alcohol
Spectrum Disorder and each time that Della speaks I
learn a little bit more about myself and it explains why I
found things so dif? cult throughout my life time.
Mi’kmaq First Nation Healing Society provides training, awareness, support and healing regarding issues
related to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
If this sounds like your life you can call :
902 648 0104 or