Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

Living with FASDs: Sasha's Story

Girl looking at globeRead about Sasha's experiences with FASDs and learn about new materials on alcohol use during pregnancy.

FASDs are a group of conditions that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects can include:

  • physical problems and
  • problems with behavior and learning.

FASDs are completely preventable if a woman does not drink alcohol during pregnancy.

Sasha's story

Alexander "Sasha" Cook was adopted in 1997 at the age of five. Now at 23, Sasha and his mother, Melissa, share his story in recognition of FASD Awareness Day.

As a child and young teen, Sasha faced numerous difficulties. These included learning problems, struggles with social relationships such as interacting with classmates, difficulty with team sports since rules were too abstract, and trouble handling everyday things in life. He still remembers that being with his fellow students was "no fun."

Sasha with his mother, Melissa, and sister, Nadia, holding a proclamation signed by the Governor of Georgia in 2013 declaring September 9 as FASD Awareness Day.

Sasha had many evaluations and was diagnosed with multiple disabilities. Knowing he was exposed to alcohol before birth is what helped his family and doctors best understand his challenges. Typical milestones that other children reached and took for granted seemed out of reach for Sasha.

Coaching, Adapting, and Modifying Expectations

Yet despite the odds and with support from his family, friends, church, and school community, Sasha has come a long way. Sasha has shown great potential, has many strengths, works hard, and clearly shows his resilience and depth of character. "We did the majority of behavior modification at home through structure and by understanding that this is not a moral disorder but a brain-based disorder," explains Melissa.

"It is constant coaching, adapting, and modifying expectations for them, realistically…. matching their potential with their gifts and strengths. As parents, we are their external brain and our children who have FASDs can be successful in a safe, structured, organized, and under-stimulated environment that recognizes and builds on their capabilities in order to help through the challenges."

Employee of the Month

Sasha successfully completed high school and has been gainfully employed by a large national grocery chain since 2009. Over the years, Sasha has been given additional responsibilities by his employer and was also recognized for his willingness to help others. Sasha proudly shares details on the numerous awards he has received and his growing customer service skills. "I was excited to be Employee of the Month in January 2013 and now I've been promoted to work the cash register. I like the people who I work with."

Active Member of the Community

Following in his mother's footsteps, Sasha is an active member of the community. He understands his disability and helps bring support to others. Recently, he participated and helped answer questions about FASDs at the 10th annual Seminar Series for "Critical Issues Facing Special Needs and at Risk Children" hosted by the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, Suicide Prevention Program and The Supreme Court of Georgia's Committee on Justice for Children.

Sasha also provided information about the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) Georgia chapter. NOFAS, a national nonprofit resource of the FASD community, is committed to preventing FASDs and supporting individuals and families living with FASDs.

As busy as Sasha stays, he still participates in fun activities including playing the piano, playing tennis with the family, and participating in a church bowling league. "Sasha is an excellent bowler and has crafted his talent for five years," continues Melissa. "As a mother raising children with FASDs, I have found that promoting physical activity through individualized sports such as bowling, tennis, and ping pong are important tools to enhance a child's daily functioning." Sasha is a very well-rounded young man and receives great family support in all his endeavors.

Melissa would like to thank the Southeast FASD Regional Training Center and FASD Communities who have been especially helpful to her and her family in the past few years.

	Image of pregnant woman with text - An alcohol-free pregnancy is the best choice for your baby. Pregnancy and alcohol dont mix.

Resources

CDC Materials: Preventing Alcohol Use During Pregnancy & FASDs
Free materials are available to help promote alcohol-free pregnancies to women. CDC has developed resources for women of childbearing age on preventing alcohol use during pregnancy and FASDs based on formative research findings. The materials target women who are pregnant and women who are trying to get pregnant. They include print products (a brochure and three posters) that are available to order and download. Several social media tools, such as banners, badges, and e-cards are also available.

Top