ADULTING WITH FASD
Growing up, my mom loved to shop. I mean...LOVED TO SHOP. To many mothers who have daughters, their daughters were probably begging their mom to take them shopping with her. Not me. Nope. I used to accompany her for back to school shopping, or shopping for a pair of dress shoes for me (triple A, banana peels, very long) . The dress shoe shopping took three to five hours. Yes, no joke. They usually had to special order my size, and that was only divulged to us three hours in once we found a pair I would wear. It was painful, as much for my feet as for my mother and me. Shoe shopping was an all day affair, and usually included driving an hour to Nordstrom's in Tyson's Corner Virginia. it was here they had the biggest dress shoe collection for my narrow feet. They were also the most expensive. I remember my mom showing me shoes, and I would say sure, why not? I never had a definite opinion, and I rarely picked out ones for myself. Now, this could be because I was young, and didn't care much, but looking back on my childhood, I have other reasons. The first is that decisions are not easy for an FASD brain. That damn executive function part of the brain. It gets all befuddled. Another reason: As you all will recall, department stores have big, bright lights that shine down on the merchandise and if you look up, your eyes get squinty and you get slightly dizzy from the brightness. At least I do. For one with an FASD, these bright lights are like a flashlight shining directly into your eyes, into your overstimulated, tired body. The lights made me cranky and uncomfortable. The amount of shoes, all of the rows and rows of different sizes, and buckles, and ties, and heels, and pat and leather, and suede. Overload on my brain. At the time, my mom thought of my non caring attitude as just not being into shopping. Yet, in reality my brain didn't like all the lights and sounds and smells that came with shoe shopping. I can remember the smell of the leather as we walked up and down the aisles. I remember the feel of the shoe as the salesman pushed it onto my foot, the first pair, then the seventh, then the tenth. All of my senses went into overdrive. To this day, I despise shoe shopping. I love sneaker shopping, because those shoes are more forgiving on my banana peels, and I can find a pair within twenty minutes. The lights and smells still bother me, but I can handle it for short spurts.
Now, let's talk about Back to School Shopping. My mom will tell you, I was definitely not the girly girl, lets shop til you drop daughter. I was the, "Yea that looks good, can we go now?" daughter. School clothes shopping could take up to three hours. Maybe more, if we went to multiple stores. Clothes shopping for my brain was similar to shoe shopping. Only, there were so many more textures, colors, and sounds. People moving the hangers, the smell of the different fabrics. The smooth texture of silk pajamas and then the fuzzy feel of winter pajamas. The feel of the bottom of footie pajamas. So much to take in! I would go into shutdown mode whenever I shopped with my mom. Neither of us understood why, we both thought I just hated shopping. I didn't mind shopping, but my BRAIN hated shopping.
I shop today, and I still have shut down moments. Being older and wiser now, I know lists are a must. I look at the list, I go to the section I am looking for, get what I need, and get out. Sometimes. Of course, my FASD brain is easily distracted, and I may or may not spend time in random sections finding things I do not need, but that are so fun! The lights still bother me, but I am usually not in a store for hours at a time. Forty five minutes to an hour is usually my max.
This brings me to an issue I have. Oh boy, this issue can get out of hand. See, I have this problem with money and math. I do not add up the amount I am spending correctly in my head. I try to estimate totals, and I am usually off by seventy-five or one-hundred dollars. No joke. Why, you ask? Well, I don't math well. Never have. I remember a trip I took to Target around Christmastime. I was so excited. It was just me. No husband, no children. Just me, my impulsivity, and stellar math skills. I kept picking things up and putting them in the basket. I glanced at the prices, and my brain looked at three prices, and then forgot to add it to the other ones. "Three-hundred is your total, Ma'am." I obliged, ran my card, and came home. I showed my husband everything I had gotten. His eyes widened, and he asked why I had bought 5 shirts and 5 pairs of pants for each child. He asked why I had bought duplicate blankets. I told him I had done very well at the dollar bins too. In case you aren't aware, dollar bins can add up to fifty dollars easily. So, together we weeded out about half of the stuff I had bought. We brought it back. We then decided we would Christmas shop together, and only together. We never had a discussion about shopping on my own for just something to do. So, one day I went into Marshall's, and they had ten dollar NIKE shirts for children. So I bought about ten. They were only ten dollars! I cashed out, and went to my car. I remembered the Christmas shopping fiasco, and since then I had come to terms that I do indeed have impulsivity issues. So, I sat in the driver's seat and took everything out of the bag, I ended up taking back five of the shirts before I drove home. I remember I was happy with myself for being so responsible. I still have moments like this. I went to Walgreens two years ago on my lunch break for stocking stuffers and ended up spending two-hundred dollars in thirty minutes. No idea how, or why. I don't think I returned anything from that trip, but I came back to work and told my coworkers. Their eyes bugged out and we all had a good laugh. So again, for those who struggle with money, with math, with impulsive buying, make a list and stick to it. If you have a day of impulsive buying, take a few minutes and go through everything. There is NO SHAME in returning items and you will save money. Also, there is probably someone who wanted an item you end up returning, and you will end up making their day. So the next time you are in a store to pick up milk and butter, stick to the list. You do not need the plastic cups with built in straws, or the cat shaped chip clips. Keep walking. One foot in front of the other, straight to the register. Do Not Pass Go, Do Not
Collect Two Hundred Dollars. And don't spend two-hundred dollars.
I am an adult living with aFetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. As an adult with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, I am constantly searching for sites that share in my quirkiness, and answer my questions i have about adults living on the spectrum. Take a peek at my blogs! They describe daily quirks, and ideas for parents, educators, children and adults living with FASDs.