This afternoon I had another meeting at the library with the caseworker from the regional center to sign a few papers that she forgot to bring the other day. Ms. D and Mr. I went with me and waited in another part of the library. Since the woman was late because of rainy day traffic, and talked longer than I expected, the meeting went longer than I had told the kids. But it worked out beautifully.
The woman expressed some things before that were a bit annoying. She keeps pushing public school for Ms. D, which I don't feel would be a good idea for her. The statistics for teen pregnancy, school problems, drug use, and crime for people with FAS are too scary, and I feel it would be better to err on the side of over-protection rather than giving her freedom to make bad mistakes. I tended to give my older teens a lot of freedom when they were Ms. D's age, but I don't think she has the reasoning ability nor the impulse control that would keep her from harm. To top it off, Ms. D is beautiful, and boys are attracted to her. A public high school would not be a safe place. I'll eventually give her more freedom, but she's not there yet. I also can tailor Ms. D's education in an environment that is free from shame. She doesn't have to be in a special class, and none of her peers needs to know her reading level or math course. And I don't have to deal with tears at the end of most days, like we did when she was in school.
The caseworker also didn't think Ms. D had FAS, even though I told her that the facial features fade after puberty. Someday I might send them a picture of Ms. D when she was six or seven, when the facial features were more pronounced. I also might send them documentation about how the facial features change with age. Ms. D was diagnosed by her medical doctor and the birth mother's alcohol consumption was confirmed. I really get upset when people look at Ms. D now and think I'm mistaken about fetal alcohol exposure. I wish it wasn't true, but it is, and we live with the effects every day.
Another annoying thing the case worker does is say that Ms. D isn't like her normal clients and doesn't really need the services. She was surprised that the psychologist accepted Ms. D and thinks that she just has a learning disability. But her attitude changed today at the library. Partway through the meeting, Mr. I came up to me and said that he couldn't find Ms. D. He acted really worried. I told him, in front of the case worker, that Ms. D probably just went to the restroom and I asked him to keep looking for her. The case worker asked me if Ms. D could have been outside, but I told her "No, she doesn't like the rain. She probably just went to the restroom like she did at the psychologist's office a couple of weeks ago. We went all over the building trying to look for her." The caseworker asked me about if Ms. D tells us when she needs to go somewhere, and I had to tell her no. She wrote "wandering" on her notes. I didn't tell the caseworker that, like many people with FASD, Ms. D needs to learn rules for each new situation. Ms. D now knows to ask to go to the restroom at the psychologist's office, but I didn't tell her to do that at the library. I'll do that then next time we go. But what was nice about this whole situation, the caseworker stopped making comments about how well functioning Ms. D was and seemed more enthusiastic about her being accepted to the regional center. I know that Ms. D will most likely need some kind of support as an adult, yet she presented too high functioning to the caseworker to get the services she will need. The actions of the kids at the library helped the caseworker to see that I'm not over exaggerating the need. I couldn't have orchestrated it better.