I am Not Invisible – FASD at School and How to Help

This FASD at School post is by my daughter, Ainsley Schuck. September 9th is FASD (International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) Day, so we thought we’d share it now as school resumes.

I have an invisible disability, but I am not invisible.


I kind of want my IEP (individual education plan) to say that. I’m not invisible and I am trying, but I need help.

It’s a double standard in the schools and in life that some with visible disabilities are treated differently than others whose disabilities are not so easy to see. Clearly, most people with any disability struggle with perceptions and support in society. But I am also here to say that in my world sometimes certain disabilities are viewed though a lens of disbelief.

My disability is hidden often until I reveal that. Typically, that means people don’t seem to understand it or even believe it.

It is still a fact. You can’t see it and I can’t see it, but it is still there. FASD at school is sometimes harder than it needs to be.

More About Me

My disability is FASD, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and while you physically cannot see it, it is still there. Until I tell you about it you might not even know.  

A Typical Day

People don’t understand what a typical day looks like for me.

Every day a lot of people wake up without much concern or worry, if they are not on the FASD spectrum. However, I often wake up after a nine-hour sleep feeling like I have been awake for days. And then, when I get to school someone will notice that I am late, unfocused, tired and burnt out.

Sadly, instead of helping me they choose to bicker and bombard me with obscure comments that are uncalled for. FASD at school doesn’t need to be like that.

More Than Aware I am Different

I get it. I have FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) and I have lived with it since I was born. Invisible disabilities, and FASD at school shouldn’t be so hard.

You can help me by reading my IEP (Individual Education Plan). Some teachers do, and they are great, but others don’t seem to and that makes everything harder. If you read it and look it over, that helps me, and we don’t need to quarrel. I don’t need to lose marks or get in trouble.


A Picture Frame

The frame of a picture holds it together, keeps it grounded, strong, steady and intact. That’s what you can do for me at school. 

If I get to your class be proud, I am ready to learn, trying to succeed and piece together my future. So please forget if I am running late. If I am there at all that’s good. That’s success for me some days.

Do you know that many people with FASD quit school. That shouldn’t happen. Everyone is entitled to an education.

I am trying to put my future together. I am going places, but I cannot do that if you nit-pick, get stuck on the past. Trust me, I have gone down that path. So, I may not have facial markings like some people with FASD, but that doesn’t make it okay to hide or ignore. My scars and my disability might be invisible, but they are still a part of me. In fact, I can tell you I have more than you think. 

Here’s How to Help

Next time you meet someone like me please treat them like an individual and not someone who is a problem. Let my story be a lesson because there are thousands of students and adults like me.

Put yourself in our spot.

Please think outside the box and always assume I am doing my best.

Please keep negative comments to yourself.

Try to get to know me.

A kind, calm demeanour helps.

Help Me Succeed Today and Every Day

I speak on behalf of myself and kids like me with FASD. We don’t want to get stuck in confrontation. It’s a waste of time and a waste of your breath. So, let us succeed, get going, help us reach our future, never leave us alone and don’t let us get off track.

Thank you.

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.


    • Heather

      This is very well written and gives some insight into FASD. Please keep sharing. This is important for people to hear. Your important!

  • Lauren

    You are such an amazing role model, Ainsley! Thank you for sharing your story, and it definitely gave me some insight into FASD and what you face on a daily basis. I hope that more people treat you with kindness like you deserve.

  • Stephanie Mayo

    Such a wise soul you are! And you’re right you are not invisible – no one is! Sadly, so many people have disorders and problems lurking below the surface that none of us and visibly see. I applaud you for sharing your story and I hope it educates others and causes them to act with kindness!

    • Paula

      Thanks so much Stephanie. It’s so true. Many people and students have invisible disabilities. So much nicer when people just respond with kind hearts and empathy to everyone.