RJ Formanek – Canada

I wish there were a fuller, deeper, truer understanding of FASD and generally accessible strategies for all to use.

Thank you to RJ Formanek for running a strong advocacy program in Red Shoes Rock FASD Aware and Flying with Broken Wings – We Love You!

About my FASD: FASD impacts nearly all aspects of my life, from physical ailments to the way my brain works. This is not all negative, it’s given me great strengths and abilities that the average neuro-typical person seems to be often unable to use. I think differently.

My Strengths: I’m good at reading, writing and speaking, seeing things in multi-dimensions and feeling true empathy with the world around me.

My Challenges: Math is my personal demon. Not much of a fan of long distance walking either.

My Wish: I wish there were a fuller, deeper, truer understanding of FASD and generally accessible strategies for all to use.

More About RJ
Starfish award 2018Having not received an FASD diagnosis until his late forties, RJ Formanek was startled to find how many of the strategies he had used throughout life were a result of FASD. 
While being educated in FASD at the Anishinabek Educational Institute in North Bay, Ontario RJ found that the sharing of these strategies were a helpful educational tool and that, along with founding the Facebook support group “Flying With Broken Wings” gives him a unique insight into living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, which he shares freely.

He is co-founder of the FASD advocacy and support group “Red Shoes Rocks” which shows that FASD is real and many people are dealing with it every day, all around the world.

RJ also speaks widely, advocating for people living on the spectrum. It is through team effort that there is more research and education being done, and getting this information out to the public is important.

2RJ was Red Shoes Rock #2 Runner in our 2016 campaign –
See his progress in 4 years – WOW. 

2016 WISH – That others need not experience what I and so many others have gone through because FASD is not understood; that by bringing light to the subject we can improve the chances, and the lives of so many others.

My Country: Canada




Are you a a standard and an automatic transmission? 

by RJ Formanek

The difference between a standard and an automatic transmission in vehicles. They both do basically the same thing, but each has to be considered, understood and operated differently. Yet you will never get cruise control with a standard transmission. However, my standard transmission brain does enable me to do some things that often lead others to expect more of me than I am actually capable of.

We call that the ‘presumption of competence’ and when people expect or even assume that we are all driving with automatic transmissions and those differences show up they can be rather extreme looking.

Expectations are not fulfilled, and that confuses the entire situation again.

I rely on my own personal support team to help me do the things that I either can’t do, or that cause me so much stress to do it’s not worth it.
One person can not really fill this role, it’s not fair to that person…but having a number of people who can ‘help out’ in certain areas can really be a huge step forward, and helps me be a better version of myself.

Our brains really are structured differently, and they operate differently.

There is no getting around that, and try as we might we can not always fulfill those expectations when placed upon us.

Learning how one’s own brain actually functions, seeing where there are problems and where there are strengths is the first step for us. We then need to try and ‘explain’ to people close to us how to best work with our brains… because as owner operators we can tell people what works, and what does not. But we need to be cognizant and proactive ourselves to ‘reach out’ to the rest of the neurotypical population.

That’s not always easy, but we are all in this together, right?

In conclusion, presumption of competence can lead to unrealistic expectations and negative emotional responses. We need to communicate effectively with our team, and together we can all move forward in this life in an interdependent fashion.

Our brains are different, but that does not have to be a bad thing,
we can be the spark that starts a whole new way of looking at things, we can change how the world sees itself, because we ARE different.

Take care of each other, the rest comes along one step at a time.


Visit us at www.embracedmovement.org to learn more about the 90-minute documentary. Join us is sharing the Red Shoes Rock FASD Aware information at www.facebook.com/RedShoesRock/

Published by jodeekulp

Jodee Kulp, is an award-winning author, producer and advocate who works tirelessly to serve children and families of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Her behavioral work in understanding canine fear and applying it to helping adults gain life skills is momumental and parallels our work with EAGALA Equine Therapy. It will be exciting to watch this progress. - Chris Troutt, Papillion Center Current Projects include: Pearlz Work Embraced Movement PraiseMoves LIFT (Laughter in Fitness Training) LiveAbilities Red Shoes Rock. Stop FASD PawZup Life Stories

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