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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

FAS and Career Possibilities

thOur second son, Pasha, is stuck. At 18 years old, he plays catch-up in school, making up for lost time in the Russian orphanage. He still has a couple of years in high school, yet the young man lacks all ambition and aim.

Most likely it’s due to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, meaning, a birthmother who drank and pickled his prenatal brain. Whether it’s partial FAS, or ARND (alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder), or whatever, is anyone’s guess. I know it’s not severe, and yet troublesome enough to interfere with everyday life.

He presents as a normal teen, yet slow in reading, slow in malecomprehending, has poor attentional and social skills, memory comes and goes (“Swiss cheese brain”), as well as lacking in executive function (refers to multiple complex cognitive skills that relate to higher order thinking, including behavioral inhibition, working memory skills, planning, and shifting between different activities and mental states). That could be a problem when it comes to his future.

unmotivatedPasha does not envision college in his future. “It’s too hard.” For someone who has trouble picking out his clothes, or getting up with an alarm clock (depends on brother to wake him), knowing when or what to do anything without prompts from us, I would tend to agree….

He’s not stupid. He doesn’t see French II in his future, either, but it’s coming next year as I’ve told him we don’t get to pick-and-choose our classes. Never mind that they know English, Russian very well and enough Hebrew to read if not carry on extensive conversations at this point. He receives consistent marks of 80% without studying and easily 90-100% with studying. What’s the problem?

“It’s hard.” The battle cry of his life. Anything that takes effort, he’s not interested.unmotivated2

So we mentally push and prod, poke and provoke, all in hopes that something will “take”.  A lotta- lotta- lotta repetition.  He’s good at art, he’s good at languages, but on his own… he’s a mess.

“What would you all suggest Pasha do with his life?” I ask the others at dinner one day.

They shake their heads. They shrug their shoulders. He does the same.

sam“C’mon, let’s get creative,” I suggest. “He’s not an invalid.”

I use the term that they always used in Russia to describe his body and mind. And 90% of that is not true. Is he 100% in his mind? No. Is he 20%? No. It’s just that the brain functions that he needs at any given time he generally does not possess.

That could be a problem.

I know they all like to go to Sam’s Club.

A store associate watches as a customer leaves with her purchases at Sam's Club in Jackson, Miss., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. Inventories held by wholesalers surged in July by the largest amount in two years while sales rebounded after two straight declines. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

“Could he work at Sam’s Club?” I posit.

They look at me blankly.

“Stocking shelves?” I coach.

“Maybe at a self-service checkout… as the checkout person…” one suggests.


They like to tease him because he’s not so nice to them, as well. He doesn’t always filter and weigh his words, one could say.

I mention a number of things where he might not be under extreme time constraints, such as flipping burgers.

“How about mowing lawns?” I ask.

Why do I have to be the idea machine, I wonder. Possibly because I don’t want him living in our lawn_care_equipmentbasement for the rest of my life….

“I could do that!” he brightens.

“With what?” another questions him. “You’d need a lawnmower, a schedule, people who want you….”

“Those would be clients or customers,” Benedetto inserts.

“I’d get a big truck and put lawn equipment in the back,” Pasha suggests.

Donuts“That costs money, too,” I remind him. “Plus, you would need to learn to drive….”

I’m not thrilled with that thought.  Everyone giggles, himself included.

Another pantomimes a customer calling. “Pasha? He’s not there, yet? But you’re right around the corner—and he should have been there three hours ago…. I think he should be there any minute–.”

“How about a donut shop?” I toss another idea out there.doughnut-costume

“Ooh, I like donuts!” Sashenka, our youngest enthuses. “Oh, I know! He could dress up like a donut and bring in customers! You know, a dancing donut!”

A dancing donut. That’s our verdict for the day.

If anyone else needs career counselling, we’re here.


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