[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/19/art.morasha.jpg
caption=”Morasha Winokur, 11, is the author of ‘My Invisible World.'”]
Morasha’s mother describes her daughter as “an old soul.” She’s 11 years old but has the sharp sense of awareness and honesty of someone many times her age. In her new book, “My Invisible World – Life with a Brother, His Disability and His Service Dog,” Morasha discusses a rarely talked about condition, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).
Morasha and her brother Iyal were both adopted from different Russian orphanages when they were babies. When Iyal was 4 years old, he was diagnosed with FAS. The disorder, along with its similar conditions, affects 1 out of 100 infants each year. That’s more than autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, spina bifida and sudden infant death syndrome combined. Growing up with Iyal has been challenging, dealing with his outbursts and behavioral issues. To help make it easier, the family brought home an FAS-trained dog named Chancer, the first-ever in the U.S.
Morasha’s uses her book to blatantly and poignantly express what her life is like having someone with FAS in the family. With her youthful voice, she has raised awareness for FAS and touched other families who are going through the same thing. She writes, “When my mother and I go out shopping, I usually get asked, ‘What’s the matter?’ because people think something is wrong with me. They just can’t get it into their head that it’s okay for people to all be different and some people need to wear glasses, or use a wheelchair for better abilities. I reply, ‘Nothing, the service dog is for my brother, but we just wanted to take him for a walk. My brother is not here right now.’ The person who asks that question responds, ‘Oh,’ or nothing at all and turns away. I get that a lot. It’s really quite annoying.’”
Update: Watch the CNN.com Live interview