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Proof Profiles

Welcome to Proof Profiles where we’re sharing the personal stories of those navigating life with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).

Get to Know Michaela.

Michaela is an 18-year-old senior in high school.  Michaela has lived with her adoptive mom, dad and two brothers for the last nine years. Just one week before the adoption took place, Michaela learned of her FASD diagnosis during a therapy session. Michaela was also diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a possible attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

Her adoptive parents got them connected to Proof Alliance. Michaela is a regular at the Second Saturdays youth support group. They often share openly about their artistic interests and have recently been gushing about their current project – designing a coloring book! Her cousin helped them come up with the idea, and Michaela says that she plans to gift the book to her cousin when it’s completed.  

Image right: Pictured is Michaela smiling in a white sweatshirt with colorful lettering. 

What's Your Superpower?

When asked what her superpower would be, Michaela says, “I’m passionate about helping other people with stuff they need because whenever I do that, I feel good about myself.”

She shared an example of when they went to a farmer’s market and she gave up her allowance earnings to help someone else. She says, “I gave these people on the street the $20 that I was going to spend on accessories, and I was like, ‘I’m pretty sure these people need it more than I do.’”  

Image left: Pictured is Michaela standing along a path smiling in a white sweatshirt with a colorful skirt and sparkly combat boots. 

What Does the Future Hold?

Michaela has three distinct career paths that she can see herself taking in the future:

  • First is cosmetology. “I’m really good at hair and nails. And I’m still practicing on myself with makeup, still getting the hang of it.”
  • Another option is policy work, advocating for policies that impact the FASD community. Michaela could see herself working to defend and advocate for those who have an FASD through systems and policy work. Michaela says “I want to see people take FASD seriously because whenever I’m out somewhere, I feel like everyone is staring at me and the walls are closing in. That’s a hard feeling to shake off.”
  • Lastly, is a career as a veterinary technician. She likes all kinds of animals and dealing with their medications, but acknowledges it would take a lot of schooling. 

Michaela’s future looks bright! 

Image right: Pictured is Michaela’s hand modeling her nail art. 

Mental Health Warrior.

Michaela discussed the challenges that come with having an FASD and other mental health diagnoses. Although it is different for everyone, Michaela opened up about their particular challenges.

She mentioned having a hard time with impulsivity, a common symptom of FASD. They also mentioned shutting down when they are in a negative mood. Michaela also noted being self-critical.

These factors can impact her mental health. “Whenever I’m having a hard time, I sometimes go to my parents to try to figure out what’s wrong.”  Other times, she talks to her therapist about what is happening, “She and I have definitely bonded. The connection is stronger than the last four [therapists] I’ve had!” Her school psychologist is another great support person. “I like to talk to him about my problems and sometimes he gives me great advice. It helps a lot.”  

Image left: Pictured is Michaela’s art work. 

Newly Diagnosed? Here's Michaela's Advice:

When we asked Michaela what she would say to someone who has just been diagnosed with an FASD, she said, “It’s a hard road to go down, but you will always come out on the top. When you’re on the bottom, you will work your way up to where you want to be, but it will be a bumpy, rocky road. But you can make it through.” 

*Interview and article produced by Proof Alliance youth intern, El R. If you or anyone you know is interested in being spotlighted in the Proof Profiles series, send an email to El at 

*Photo credits: Joy & Wander North Photography