Erin D.

Erin D. is a 25-year-old with FAS. She was adopted by a great Christian family after being in foster care. She is a very creative and friendly person and loves to use her hands to make things like her jewelry. Discover Erin’s jewelry at http://www.madaboutbeading.blogspot.com/.

Brianna Montgomery: Welcome and thank you for agreeing to speak with me today. Let’s get started! Tell me a little bit about yourself and having FASD.

Erin D.: I grew up in foster care and was adopted at 1 ½ years old. I was diagnosed with FAS and it has been interesting. School was difficult, but I had a lot of help. I was born blind in my right eye and because of that I cannot drive.

BM: Tell me about some things that you excel at and what things have been difficult for you.

ED: Well, obviously driving is difficult for me and the mental part of having FASD, like understanding what people are saying, has been difficult. Actually, I haven’t had too much difficulty with things. It has been mostly just gullibility and understanding when someone is being truthful or not.

BM: What things are you good at?

ED: I do a lot of crafts.

BM: Oh yes, I was on your website and I saw your jewelry. It is incredible; I am very impressed!

ED: Thank you, I have been doing a lot of crafts and trying to keep myself busy now that I am not working anymore.

BM: Tell me a little bit about your background. Did you go to school?

ED: I graduated high school and decided not to go to college. I worked at a greenhouse since April of 2006.

BM: What was your job like at the greenhouse?

ED: I did carry-out. I helped people carry plants and bags of soil and mulch out to their cars. It was tiring after a while.

BM: What interested you in working at the greenhouse?

ED: I have always liked nature. Ever since I was little I loved being outside. I would take rocks and seeds and bring them in. I was always a rock collector. I also took a class at a transition center to prepare me for having a job and I was in the agriscience program for one year and I really liked that. I’ve always been fascinated with how things grow. I also took a retail class, so that helped with my job.

BM: That’s a wonderful experience. Do you talk to people about having FASD or educate people about FASD?

ED: I do talk to people about having FASD. In middle school, I gave my first speech about having FASD. In high school, I spoke to our family living class about what FASD is and how it affected me. I also do my jewelry and pass out my cards with information about me and FASD prevention. I have spoken in front of my church on “Disability Sunday” as well. They pick someone from our church group that would like to share about their experience with a disability and how it has affected them and their Christian life.

BM: It sounds like you have done a lot of great things! Earlier you touched on how you excel at crafts, especially beading. How did you passion for beading start?

ED: I am not really sure where that started. I like little things and I have always been in to beads. I started with stringing beads on a necklace and then I went on to YouTube and looked up different designs. That is where most of my design ideas for bracelets and jewelry have come from. Someone tried to teach me bead weaving and I didn’t get it at first, but then I taught myself by watching more YouTube training videos.

BM: So you are pretty much self-taught; that’s great! What is your favorite part of beading? What are your favorite things to make?

ED: I like creating different designs and coming up with new ideas. Just showing people that I can do this is important to me. With FASD there are no limits. I am a go-getter and I am going to try it.

BM: How are your beading projects a reflection of you?

ED: In each bracelet or piece of jewelry, I always have one wrong bead to show I’m not perfect.

BM: That’s such a good message to send. There is a little lesson in each of your pieces of art.

ED: It has also helped me to realize that I am not perfect. I know people want things to look right and I was always struggling with that. I brought this up to my friend Rob and he told me “who cares what people think.” I went with that philosophy and he helped me develop the cards with my story on it.

BM: That’s a great way to look at things. Tell me a little bit about your beading blog, “Beadweave it or not”, (which is a very cute name, by the way).

ED: Thanks. I started my blog because I wanted to raise awareness of FASD and show my jewelry. My jewelry is my way of showing that I have FASD and people with FASD can be creative. On my blog, I also include when I will be at FASD meetings and things like that.

BM: Your blog is very impressive and a great educational resource. How does blogging and beading help you with your daily life?

ED: Funny thing is that I always have to remember to put the wrong bead in when I am making my jewelry. Those activities help to relax me and help me remember that I am creative, but I’m not perfect.

BM: Do you have any other hobbies besides beading and blogging?

ED: I just went to a recycled craft show about a month ago. It was all things that were made from other things. We went to a booth where a woman crocheted with plastic bags. I have now started crocheting with plastic bags and I’ve made pouches, purses, placemats and I’m in the process of making a couple doormats. My newest thing is making beads out of paper. I will be blogging about my new activities soon.

BM: That’s so neat! Do you sell the jewelry and crafts that you make on your website?

ED: Yes I do. You can go to http://www.madaboutbeading.blogspot.com/.

BM: Do you ever go to craft shows to sell your art?

ED: I sell my jewelry at a coffee shop nearby called Urban Mill. I showcased my stuff there in August at their two-day art fair. Actually a woman that bought my jewelry told me that she had a relative with FAE and that was interesting to hear about her.

BM: That’s nice to be able to help someone understand more about FASD. What do you do with the proceeds that you receive?

ED: I am raising funds for NOFAS. I’ve raised almost $300.

BM: That’s incredibly kind of you. Thank you for thinking of us. I hope that you’ll keep most of the money for yourself; you have worked hard for it! Thank you. Tell me a little bit about your friends. Do any of your friends also have FASD?

ED: A couple other people including my friend Rob. He started a group for adults with FASD in our community. At one of the group meetings this summer, I met a couple new friends.

BM: That’s great! What do you do at your meetings?

ED: We chat and catch up with what we have all been up to. It’s basically just a get together.

BM: That’s nice to have friends that are going through similar circumstances as you.

ED: Yes, it’s good to have them.

BM: Do you have any other interests or things that you like to do with friends?

ED: I like to be on the computer, watch movies and listen to music. I hang out with friends when I can.

BM: Do you have a favorite musical artist? Movie?

ED: I like all kinds of music and I really enjoy family movies.

BM: I only have a couple more questions for you. What do you want people to know about individuals with FASD?

ED: Just because we have a disability doesn’t mean we can’t do stuff. We strive to do our work the best we can. We are not stupid and we do get things. We are unique.

BM: That’s exactly right. I have met so many incredible people with FASD and you have overcome your challenges so well. If you had one message for women thinking of becoming pregnant or mothers-to-be, what would that be?

ED: Stop and think about what you are doing. My birth mom didn’t really do that, but I do not blame. There is no use of playing the blame game. I am alive.

BM: That’s very mature thinking. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. I am so impressed with the wonderful things that you have achieved and are doing. Also, thank you again for thinking of NOFAS for your fundraising. You are incredibly generous and kind.

ED: I am happy to help. Thank you for this opportunity.