Living with FASDs: Sasha's Story
Read 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.
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.
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.
- CDC's Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Homepage
- Alcohol Use in Pregnancy
- Information for Women
- Information for Families
- CDC's Alcohol and Public Health Homepage
- National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS)
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, FASD Center for Excellence
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
- Page last reviewed: November 16, 2016
- Page last updated: November 16, 2016
- Content source:
- National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
- Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs