“…The 16-year-old Timmins resident has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and sits on the FASD Awareness Cochrane-Timmins committee…”
Teen advocate with FASD shares her story
By Emma Meldrum
Sunday, September 10, 2017 7:01:06 EDT PM
[Photo] Amanda Mollins Koene greets people as they enter Hollinger Park for FASD Awareness Day on Saturday.
TIMMINS – Amanda Mollins Koene is an FASD expert, inside and out.
The 16-year-old Timmins resident has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and sits on the FASD Awareness Cochrane-Timmins committee.
“Two and a half years ago I got an official diagnosis,” said Mollins Koene on Saturday, FASD Awareness Day. “It means that sometimes I have trouble controlling my impulses.”
The teen greeted people who stopped by the afternoon’s activities held at Hollinger Park on Saturday. She’s made several speeches about the disorder, and runs a Facebook page dedicated to educating people about it.
“Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is a disorder that happens when a pregnant mom drinks alcohol. There are facial features, but they only happen within a specific time,” she said.
Mollins Koene said her parents often act as her “external brain.”
“They help me make the right choices, guide me, and help me with that.”
She was adopted at the age of one, but harbours no ill will towards her birth mother.
“I’m not (angry). I can honestly say that if my birth mom came to my door, I’d welcome her. I can honestly say that, because something that sticks to me is a birth mom who cares enough to come and say, ‘I made a mistake.’”
The teen said that sometimes FASD is the result of a mistake – not harmful intent.
“It’s a bit frustrating, but also there’s the moms who don’t know they’re pregnant, and they drink, and there’s moms who are already addicted and can’t stop right like that.”
She said preventing the disorder is simple.
“There’s one thing you have to do: don’t drink alcohol during pregnancy. That’s the only thing you have to do to not get it.”
Her parents, Lyndsay and Job Mollins Koene, said they’re proud of their daughter.
“We’re incredibly proud, and always have been. Amanda is a great researcher, from very early on, she won a couple of science fair competitions here in our city talking about FASD,” said Lyndsay Mollins Koene.
“Amanda is very impulsive, and she’ll tell you that. So whether it’s a spending moment…or a decision-making moment, Amanda sometimes needs someone there next to her, not saying do this, do that, but instead saying, ‘what do you think, what would happen if,’ and pointing out the consequences of one direction or the other,” said her mother.
“She’s a great advocate for anyone working with FASD,” she said.
The Mollins Koene family spent the day at the park, where kids strolled from one activity table to another, and volunteers cooked a barbecued lunch. The end goal was to educate more people about the disorder. The young advocate said it’s a great start.
“It feels great to see so many people here, so many people wanting to learn, so many people asking questions. I like to see that.”
She’d like to see people learning more every day, however. The FACT committee also organized a booth at Welcome to Timmins Night last week, and Mollins Koene will continue to speak about the disorder at events throughout the city.