#117 Rhonda & Shawn: How to love someone with FASD who’s hurt someone

fasd success show Jul 30, 2022

Tigger Warning: Incarceration, Suicide, Trauma and Sexual Assault 

This unique episode has some critical information about how systemic barriers and failures can result in adverse outcomes for individuals with FASD. We will leave the detail for the episode, but we want to give you a general idea about the content. 

First up, I want to thank Shawn for being brave and vulnerable in sharing his story. Rhonda also has my deep respect for supporting and loving him through this process, while also recognizing the impact and harm on the victim.  

Rhonda has worked in the child welfare system for 30 years. She was first introduced to FASD in her personal life when she provided respite for Debbie and Bill Michaud (both former podcast guests). Eventually, she raised 8 individuals (most with FASD) and supported a variety of their friends and family along the way, which is how she came to know Shawn.


Our talking about this and trying to find understanding from others doesn’t change the fact that people were harmed by Shawn and his behaviors. We share to help people understand why. It doesn’t excuse it. We honor the women that he has harmed. He fully acknowledges what he did was very wrong.

We talk about the beginning of Rhonda’s journey as well as: 

  • Her thoughts on the gaps in knowledge and awareness of FASD. 
  • Shawn’s strengths and challenges and the difference supports make in his capacity for day-to-day living. 
  • His traumatic history and the factors that led to his current criminal charges for sexual assault. 
  • The importance of a Gladue Report, which informs the judge about the background and personal circumstances of individuals who identify as Indigenous.   

Children who have a disability – their life is hard. I was treated badly  in a couple foster homes. Some of the parents didn’t really understand how to take care of a kid with a disability. Need to learn how to understand where the kids are coming from because if they don’t understand how can they help us? 

Shawn provides his thoughts on supporting individuals with FASD, as well as: 

  • The ineffective coping strategies he used to use versus those he uses now. 
  • How his past trauma affected him and what he has learned. 
  • The healing that has happened since working with a therapist to understand his disability, re-connecting with his culture, and learning to trust Rhonda and his circle of support. 

My hope in sharing Rhonda and Shawn’s story is that caregivers will gain valuable tips for supporting vulnerable individuals.  

I also hope it shines a light for professionals on what can happen where there is no diagnosis and no access to informed services. When we assume a person “looks normal and talks normal”, we put them into situations where they can fail. When they fail, someone gets hurt. They get charged and the charges can be serious.  Now we are left with families in ruins where the failure was in fact not the individual, but systemic from years and years ago.  

There have been some hard lessons in Shawn's story but there have been some silver linings. No matter what happens in Court, we hope that Shawn and his victim find healing.  


Show Notes: 

Check out our Facebook Page:  FASD Caregiver Success 

Join our Facebook Group: FASD Caregiver Success Group 

Follow me on Twitter: @JeffjNoble 

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