Bruce is a young adult with FASD living in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
During his teenage years he experienced many of the secondary characteristics often associated with FASD and his life was in a downward spiral. He was diagnosed with FASD in his mid-teens. He wasn’t surprised at the diagnosis but he says he didn’t (and still doesn’t) understand a lot about it.
His diagnosis identifies his strengths as well as his areas of low brain function. He acknowledges that having FASD makes it much harder ‘to get on with things’. Bruce says, “Sometimes there are lots of things going on in my head. All I know is it gives me difficulties and stuff and that’s about it.”
Fortunately, he has strength in his self-motivation and achieved NCEA level 2 qualification through attending alternative education after years of school absences. He then organised entry into an army boot-camp course aimed at turning around the lives of troubled young people.
This set him on a pathway to employment. He worked at different jobs within the hospitality business for six years and is currently employed as a skilled labourer. He shares his thoughts on living with FASD to encourage others: it IS possible for those with FASD to achieve many of their goals and dreams.
Bruce says: "Something within me may have chosen to strive for a brighter future but I am still at the beginning of my journey. FASD is something I don’t fully understand but I am well aware of the daily mental challenges that I go through.
Looking back, I can see how FASD helped shape the person I am today. I have gained more insight into myself as of late but with that, there is often painful regret and other mixed emotions from the past – decisions made and past mistakes that came with severe consequences for myself.
There are memories and flashbacks of drug abuse, fights, violence, crime and much more. Some of these situations could have been avoided or minimised if I had understood the situation differently or I could have reasoned differently – or maybe for some other reason I am still yet to realise.
On the plus side, I am very proud of the times I was triumphant in dealing with powerful base emotions, problems or situation with other individuals or police, or even members of public that could have led to violence or escalated dangerously if it weren’t for my ability to process those situations the way I had at that moment."