It’s International FASD Awareness Day! Let’s Celebrate!

We want to know, Russ – what do you celebrate in your life?

Russ has been a presenter with Visions and Voices for many years. Visions and Voices is a speaking bureau comprised of adults with FASD.  As a response to FASD Day on September 9, Russ was asked the following question: What do you celebrate in your life?

I live a consistently hard life. Every new day is a challenge for me. And will continue to be a challenge. What helps with that is the support I have in my life; I am funded about 5 days a week, 4-6 hours a day. I have found out that without support I usually find myself in places I don’t want to be.

I really love, and have a clear understanding of, when I am acknowledged. That really speaks out to me. I get acknowledged on September the 9th, FASD Day. Having people listen is acknowledgement to me. September 9th, FASD Day, is society recognizing that people have this hidden disability. Society recognizes that they can help us when they understand FASD. Understanding the difference between “can’t and won’t.” I guess instead of thinking the child won’t understand, understanding that maybe the child can’t understand. Making that paradigm shift. Trying differently instead of harder is where that comes into play.

I am proud to be a dad and I get to see my daughters and my mom and my dad regularly. I am still proud to be an FASD speaker, supporter, and advocacy enthusiast.

There was a time when I was being released from jail to the Touchstone program. One of the judges said to the program staff, “if this is the poster boy for someone living with FASD, why is he were he is?” I said “Your Honor, I’m here because of my FASD.” Luckily for me I was able to get through that whole justice part of my life. I have been without probation now for about two years; I am very proud of that.

I consider myself very fortunate to be supported, loved, cared for, and acknowledged in my FASD community.

Russ Hilsher

Winnipeg, Manitoba