Rebecca recently sat down (virtually!) with fellow FASD self-advocate Matt Sinclair, from Ontario, Canada. This article is taken from their conversation, which you can also watch below.
Matt was first diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) at 6 months – which is a very early intervention! His adoptive parents had a “gut instinct” – and sought input from various professionals they were working with at the time. They knew that early intervention would be key to success in his adult years. His diagnosis of FASD was something that was managed with the help of many services working collaboratively. These supports enabled Matt to enjoy all the things every other little boy his age loved to do.
Life has had its ups and downs, especially as a kid. Matt was bullied because of personal hygiene – stuff he didn’t fully understand in terms of social norms . He struggled with speech, and has had to “relearn everything!” Some of the struggles he faces related to his FASD diagnosis include confabulation when he is using substances. Addiction can play a pretty heavy role for those living with an FASD. Matt has struggled off and on with addiction, but hasn’t let that stop him. Matt is kicking its butt!
At 38, Matt has put all that relearning to use. He runs his own company – All Relations Consulting – an Aboriginal owned company that helps with education, justice, peer to peer support. He also works at a metal fabrication shop in London, Ontario. Matt just finished up his post-graduate studies in the FASD Program at Sault College, in partnership with the Anishinabek Educational Institute.
There are strengths that come with living with an FASD. Matt’s strengths are determination, resilience and patience. He works out and likes to run to clear his head and release stress. Matt is a father as well. He talks with his 17 year old son every day. They hang out and shoot the shit, as fathers and sons do!
Matt’s message for those with an FASD who might be struggling is:
“We’re neurotypical. We do everything differently, but we get the same results. Don’t let anyone judge you for doing it differently Just be yourself!”
Rebecca and Matt enjoyed their conversation and connection as self-advocates in the FASD community. They want others living with an FASD to know that you are not alone. Yes, there are struggles – but there is also hope!
Enjoy more of their conversation in the video below!