Your Guide to FASD Assessment in Manitoba

The Manitoba FASD Network recently released a new website to help guide people living in Manitoba through the FASD assessment process.

The Manitoba FASD Network was established in 2009. It provides diagnostic and short-term follow-up services to people living in Manitoba, with the goal of providing FASD assessment, support, and education closer to home.

The organization is structured with central FASD offices in Winnipeg, and FASD Diagnostic Coordinators located in five regions across Manitoba. The central offices provide leadership and training to the network, while the Diagnostic Coordinators interact directly with the community to support families through the assessment process and assist the local clinics in their region.

On their new website you can find:

  • An overview of the assessment and diagnositic process;
  • How to contact your Regional Diagnostic Coordinator;
  • Information about the referral process;
  • Local news and events;
  • Contact information;
  • And more!

Click here for more information.

(Source article)

New Webinar: Loss, Grief, and FASD

Register now for CanFASD’s newest webinar presentation on Friday July 10, 2020 at 1:00pm EDT. Dr. Dorothy Badry, CanFASD’s Child Welfare Research Lead, will be discussing loss, grief, and resilience in relation to FASD along with members from the CanFASD Family Advisory Committee and the FASD community.

Loss and grief seem to go hand in hand in relation to FASD and this experience deeply impacts the lives of children, youth, adults, families and support networks. Many children become involved in the child protection system early in their lives, which can result in involvement with the justice system in adolescence and adulthood. Mothers experience their own loss and grief regarding their child’s disability. Some mothers frequently lose the opportunity to parent their children, often due to active substance use.

Beyond diagnosis, FASD is a complex psychosocial/emotional experience that requires ongoing supports to navigate life on a daily basis. Individuals with FASD often experience mental health challenges, poverty and homelessness. Other losses for individuals living with FASD include being misunderstood, facing challenges in relationships, ever-present stigma and social exclusion.

FASD often goes unrecognized by many professionals and this contributes to ineffective support, unrealistic expectations, frustration, loss and grief, all of which contribute to higher levels of vulnerability. Individuals and families have cumulative experiences of loss, grief and hurt, particularly when they feel professionals do not understand their experience and the impact of FASD in daily life. Training on FASD and practicing FASD informed care is essential to minimize further marginalization and oppression of individuals and families. The COVID-19 Pandemic has resulted in a loss of supports for individuals living with FASD. This loss creates new and unexpected challenges that we will talk about from a personal, professional and parent perspective.

CanFASD is constantly aware of the challenges faced by individuals with FASD, their families and their support networks and continues to be amazed at the capacity for resilience and hope. In this webinar CanFASD will use contemporary theory to explore loss and grief as it relates to FASD, and will hear from the voice of an advocate and public speaker living with FASD, and the voices of parents from the CanFASD Family Advisory Committee.  Register now!

(Source article)

National Accessibility Week and FASD

It’s National Accessibility Week in Canada!

Held annually during the first week of June, National Accessibility Week is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Canadians with disabilities and to recognize those individuals, communities, and workplaces that are actively working to remove barriers to accessibility and inclusion.

Everyone has the right to be included in society, through education, employment, and community activities. Some people need different resources and supports in order for them to achieve success.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is a lifelong disability impacting the brain and body of people exposed to alcohol in the womb. Each person with FASD has both strengths and challenges and will need special supports to help them succeed with many different parts of their daily lives.

Approximately 4% of Canadians, or more than 1.4 million people, have FASD. Each one of these individuals has the right to supports and services that make health care, education, employment, housing, community initiatives, and social connection accessible.

There are a number of people, organizations, and initiatives across Canada that are working to break down barriers to accessibility and inclusion for individuals with FASD. Here are some of the amazing stories that we’ve seen over the past year:

‘I can be myself’: Youth FASD support program expands in Yellowknife
Lois Anderson, a teenager from the Northwest Territories, explains the value of having an FASD specific program that gives her the supports needed to successfully transition into adulthood.

As demand explodes, Manitoba’s new FASD court expands to meet need
Canada’s criminal justice system isn’t set up to effectively support individuals with FASD to achieve success. A specialized court system in Manitoba is specifically designed to help individuals with FASD navigate the criminal justice system and access necessary supports.

People living with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder share their stories
An FASD specific conference held in Sudbury, Ontario, gives individuals with FASD a platform to share their stories. Valencia Poulton and RJ Formanek are among some of the attendees who shared their stories with the wider public to promote inclusion and reduce the stigma surrounding FASD.

(Read more…)

MCCSS remains very committed to improving outcomes for children, youth and families affected by FASD

Great News!!

The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) remains very committed to improving outcomes for children, youth and families affected by Prenatal Exposure to Alcohol (PAE) and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). We at Health Nexus are very pleased to share that this Provincial FASD Family and Caregiver Support Group Project will continue. Call for applications is coming soon on the FASD Family and Caregiver Support Group Project page!

To learn more about this exciting opportunity please plan to attend our upcoming Webinar.


New eLearning courses available for justice and solicitor general professionals!

CanFASD has recently released two new online courses for professionals in the Justice and Solicitor General systems.

CanFASD offers a wide range of online courses to improve professional and community understanding of FASD. Their courses are categorized by level of experience, where Level I courses provide a basic overview, Level II courses provide sector-specific training, and Level III courses provide expert training to FASD professionals. They have recently added two new Level II courses to our repertoire: FASD for Judicial and Legal Professionals and FASD for Solicitor General Professionals.

Legal issues are a common experience for individuals with FASD. Some researchers have found that as many as 60% of adolescents and adults with FASD have a history of trouble with the law. Furthermore, it is estimated that 10-23% of individuals in the criminal justice system have FASD. A “one size fits all” approach to justice will not likely be effective for improving outcomes for those with FASD. It is important that professionals working in justice systems have a strong understanding of FASD, the unique challenges this population may face, and strategies for responding and supporting them effectively.

Our new Level II courses are designed for professionals working in the Legal and Judicial, and Solicitor General systems. They provide learners with a better understanding of how FASD impacts a person’s involvement with the justice system, challenge some of the common assumptions about FASD and justice-involvement, and provide helpful strategies and suggestions for working with justice-involved individuals with FASD. There are also interactive case examples to help reinforce the course content.

Learners who complete these courses will be equipped with evidence-based information practice-informed recommendations, and access to many resources that can be easily and effectively integrated into their practice and approach to working with individuals with FASD. All of this information is presented within the context of Canadian legal parameters, and tailored to profession-specific opportunities.

(Read more…)

Alcohol and Pregnancy with Louise Gray

Join the hosts, NOFASD’s Kurt Lewis and FARE’s Clare Ross as they sit down to chat with Louise Gray (Chief Excutive Officer of NOFASD Australia) about the pregnancy, alcohol and FASD. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or FASD is a condition that only appears in children who have been exposed to alcohol while in the womb. It leads to lifelong physical and developmental impairments. (Click here to listen)

FASD project seeks to diagnose Saskatchewan offenders, support better outcomes

A clinical team at Saskatoon’s Regional Psychiatric Centre is working to diagnose Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in incarcerated people.

The pilot project seeks to rehabilitate people with the disorder, connecting them with supports to keep them in the community and out of the criminal justice system.

FASD is linked to alcohol exposure in the womb, and can cause cognitive, behavioural and physical disabilities, according to the FASD Network of Saskatchewan.

People with FASD are more likely to be involved with the criminal justice system due to neuropsychological deficits in judgement, Correctional Service Canada says.

Dr. Mansfield Mela, a forensic psychiatrist and lead clinician for the project at the Regional Psychiatric Centre (RPC), said many inmates who have FASD haven’t been diagnosed — and that’s a problem.

“The behaviours of the individual are usually misinterpreted to mean a deliberate and intentional behaviour, which gets them in trouble,” Mansfield told Global News.

“Because that behaviour hasn’t been appropriately labelled, they are more likely to continue to suffer the consequences of their behaviour even though the right intervention has not happened.”

Once a diagnosis is made, the project team recommends supports catered to patient needs after they serve their sentence.

Those supports range from counselling to housing and employment — all major helpers on the road to rehabilitation.

“There’s more resources available to them once they have that confirmed diagnosis of FASD,” said Tarrah Wandler, acting executive director of health services at RPC.

“It opens up a lot more supports for the patients in the community and it eases their … successful transition to their communities.”

Thirty-five people have gone through the assessment process since the project started in March 2018, she said.

Mela said anecdotally, they’ve heard the community resources provided to those patients have helped them avoid reoffending.

“That, to us, is a sign that there is a lot of potential in this project going forward to be able to support people who hadn’t been diagnosed previously … to be law-abiding members of society,” Mansfield said, noting the majority of people with FASD are already law-abiding citizens.

(Read more…)

FASD: Lessons In Processing Speed From The Turtle, Sloth And Snail

“I recently saw the graphic below, of a sloth riding on a turtle’s back, saying “too fast”. I was going to share it on my Facebook page, with a short comment about how we may need to slow down in order to accommodate an individual with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Either in what we say, how fast we want someone to reply to us, or to get something done that we ask to be done.

The speed at which we operate is usually too fast for people with FASD. The expectations that we hold for others to meet our requests or demands on our timelines are usually not compatible when it comes to FASD.

Many people with FASD will have a slower processing speed.

Processing speed is a cognitive ability that could be defined as the time it takes a person to do a mental task. It is related to the speed in which a person can understand and react to the information they receive, whether it be visual (letters and numbers), auditory (language), or movement.

For some with FASD, it’s like being a 10 second person in a one second world.

This picture really made me pause. Because we think turtles are slow. But to a sloth, a turtle is too fast. We are likely too fast for many of the children and people we support. We may slow things to a turtle pace, thinking we are slowing enough … but maybe we need to be like a sloth. Some people may even require us to be like a snail.

I have just wrapped up taking a 30 day Self Regulation Challenge (you can read about the beginning of my journey here: Self Regulation in FASD and me) from The Mehrit Centre. Although for many children with FASD their ability to understand and implement self regulation skills may be limited due to various deficits or impacts in different areas of the brain. When a child can’t regulate we need to co-regulate and/or model self-regulation.” (Read more…)

Colette Philcox, From the Streets to Success

Jeff Noble talked to Colette Philcox – not only an individual on the spectrum, but the daughter of Brian Philcox and Bonnie Buxton – and the inspiration for Bonnie’s book: Damaged Angels. Colette is a mother of two – one on the spectrum, is an advocate and holds down a job in the film industry. 

“Colette’s story will inspire hope in individuals and caregivers. Adopted at 4, she was on the streets and addicted to crack by her mid-teens. When I asked her what was the factor that changed the trajectory of her life, she said there wasn’t any one thing that happened.

Now with experience and maturity at 40, you will be captivated by her candor, honesty and insights on: 

  • Living life on the street (she estimates 85% on the streets are on the Spectrum) and why the constant connection her parents kept with her was important. 
  • Being in an abusive relationship and having to choose between getting beat up or having a drink while pregnant: and how she worked through that guilt. 
  • Her reaction to her mom’s book Damaged Angels and how she is coping now with Bonnie’s Alzheimer’s Disease.  
  • Managing employment success and her day to day coping strategies. 
  • Recognizing the importance of her support system: her parents, her partner, her adult children, and her pets. 
  • Musings on the future for Colette and her family.

I have watched Colette grow and mature. I’m not suggesting you kick your kids out, but as she became older she saw what she
was doing wasn’t very good yet she never blamed her parents for tough love – which worked for her. Despite it all, they were always in the background supporting her.

For instance, she talks how Bonnie would meet her and take her out for something to eat. She mentioned she would show up at their home to take a shower and wash some clothes. Reminded me of my foster kid: he said he did the same thing at group homes. He would show up clean up and then leave…The streets where a better option than the group home..that’s what’s wrong.

People in the shelter system wanted to help BUT she wanted to do it by herself. And she did. Colette is a great example of what can be accomplished through love, sticking it out and sheer tenacity of will.”

(Source blog post)

FASD and Youth Housing

If you are finding life to be similar, to us, life has very much became a marathon now. Everyday is an exercise in self-discipline and trying to maintain some sense of routine. We are finding we need to set our alarm to go off every morning to encourage us to get up and start our work day. We need to follow our morning routine and have built in our day that the girl’s support worker always calls at 10am and does an initial activity with them over Zoom conferencing. The kids move pretty slow in the morning while my wife and I are getting our work done. The afternoon focus turns on them and working through their school work. We always stop at 4pm and go for our walk or ride as a family which is absolutely a highlight. Finally, with this beautiful weather, we focus on the yard after supper.
While this is our new normal, it is interesting to see all the online resources that are being offered now. One of the big challenges we are finding, after spending hours online with my work, the kids’ work and the beautiful weather, is we really don’t want to be in front of screens watching other webinars and resources.

However, a couple items that might be of interest to you is a short series of workshops that Kids Inclusive, who serve as the LHIN for our area, are doing on the F-Words from CanChild. The F-Words are protective factors that can help any child with a disability and are evidence-based from around the world.  This June 9 workshop will give caregivers an opportunity to connect with each other.

We also had a presentation done for the Rural FASD Support Network by Terrilee Kelford of Cornerstone Landing. Terrilee sits on a national advisory council related to youth homelessness and was gracious enough to share some of her knowledge. (Read more…)