My Son Has A FASD, But That’s Not His Definition

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This post is written by a dad, in hopes of sharing encouragement (and also to brag about his son.)This month is FASD Awareness Month. FASD stands for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. It is the umbrella title over several diagnoses surrounding drug and alcohol exposure in utero. My son has a FASD. But he's not defined by it.

“He came in first place!”

My fingers were shaking with joy as I sent this text to my spouse this past Sunday, from the 50th Special Olympics games where my son competed. He had asked me, just before the race, what place I thought he would get. “I don’t know bud. Just go out there and give it your best,” I said encouragingly. “Okay, I will. You’re in for a treat today dad,” he said with that cheesy grin of his that has always brought a smile to our faces.

He ran well. Really well. I wasn’t sure on his placement, but he was one of the first kids to finish in his division. In any case, I was super proud. He was upbeat and hopeful as we walked to the staging area where medals would be handed out. The best part was his encouraging talk about other runners. “See that kid over there, dad?” he asked me, as he pointed out another teenager across the field. “He needed help up the hill and so I helped him. He’s really nice.”

Special Olympics fosters this kind of sportsmanship and inclusion of others. There’s no competition, no levels. Even the staging area was on equal ground. No podiums. And no surprise that my son would respond to a fellow runner this way.

He’s always been kind and compassionate. Even as a toddler, he had this innate ability to sense when someone else was hurting or downtrodden, and care for them. Now, as a teenager, he has a genuine care and concern for others. He loves his friends in the neighborhood deeply. Beyond deep, in fact. When one of his friends was struggling recently, he nearly burst into tears as he told us about everything she was going through.

Kind…compassionate…caring…loving…funny (oh yes, a brilliant sense of humor). These are the words that describe my child. Yes, he has a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. But that’s not his definition. He is defined by so much more.

This is a disorder that is often unseen and misunderstood by the vast majority of the world. We had a talk about that on Sunday, in fact. He asked why some things are so difficult for him to do, even though he looks like everyone else. We had a good talk about what it means to have an invisible disability.

We sat there quietly for some time. “Well,” he said after a while, “Then the world needs to know and understand FASD the RIGHT way. They need to know that we aren’t hopeless and we’re not a waste, and we can be a part of this place!”

My heart warmed as we sat there and talked. He’s always been a powerful advocate for himself and others with this diagnosis. And when he talks, people always listen. Someday we will see him in the public eye, speaking hope and change to a world in need of it. As his parents, it’s our responsibility to share our belief in him constantly. On Sunday, the words weren’t just coming from mom and dad, they were  confirmed when that gold medal was placed over his head. My heart swelled with pride. He grinned with utter and complete excitement.

Has this journey been hard at times. Yes. Without a doubt.

Have there been days that are defeating and exhausting. Yes.

It’s been far from easy. Some days he is sick to death of having FASD. Some days he is tired of working harder than others at everything. Yes, he is diagnosed with a FASD, but that’s not what defines him. Not even close.

He’s an overcomer. He’s a fighter. He’s a winner. He’s a beautiful human being.

That’s his definition!

(*Editor’s note- this post was written with direct consent from my son.)

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

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Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

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Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.