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)

Day 36 of 99 Days to FASDAY: With Support Students Can Succeed

“Day 36 of 99 day, the myth about plateau of learning. While research has suggested that skill levels for people with FASD vary, I believe Grade 4 (through my own experience with the maiden) is definitely when things began to “fall apart” at school for her.

After the shift from the primary grades of 1, 2 and 3, with FASD not recognized, and the teaching style not adapted sufficiently for her, it was a disaster in the making. The sad part is, despite all the challenges she had at school, she was always an eager learner. She always wanted to bring homework home – even if there was no homework assigned!

For more information check out: Disrupted School Placements and FASD

I have said it before, and I will say it again, as more is known about FASD, I sure hope the school systems get onboard and start providing the type of education our children deserve. Our communities are missing out on many of the gifts our children have to offer.


Current Strategies and Educational Supports for Students with FASD

Despite educational supports being available in most school systems, current educational strategies are often outdated, too generalized, and lack the accessible information teachers need to prepare ideal IPPs for students with FASD.

Moreover, Millar and colleagues observed that children with FASD who received insufficient supports were at risk for a number of secondary adverse outcomes, including dropping out of school, involvement with the criminal justice system, mental health issues, and substance use problems.

Additionally, community support is generally very poor for individuals with FASD and their caregivers, with many parents lacking the knowledge, understanding, and resources to handle the developmental disabilities associated with FASD.

Despite these inadequate resources, most diagnoses, supports, and interventions come from within school systems, strengthening the importance of improving and revising educational supports to enhance learning outcomes for students with FASD.”

(Read more…)

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)

Day 21 of 99 Days to FASDAY: FASD Language Guide

“I am very excited about the information I will be sharing over the next 6 days of the 99 Days to FASDay countdown. Day 21 – 26 will focus on the words we use when talking about FASD, people with FASD and women who use alcohol during pregnancy.

I found these suggestions in a Language Guide on the Manitoba FASD Coalition website under a project called Looking After Each Other.

In May 2014, a diverse group of Manitobans came together to talk about the relationship between stigma and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and their shared passion to end it. They began to create a vision for a province where people with FASD and women who have used alcohol during pregnancy are fully accepted and their dignity is protected.

In order to achieve its purpose of promoting dignity the project has developed three pillars, each with a corresponding subcommittee. Each subcommittee is pursuing a variety of activities to promote dignity including creating mini-documentaries, applying for research grants and developing a guide that highlights dignity promoting language.

While this group is in the province of Manitoba, in Canada, I think their guide can be used around the world. Some of their suggestions may be controversial due to the deeply ingrained culture of shame and stigma that surrounds alcohol, pregnancy and people with disabilities or challenges. Others may not fit cultures in different countries. But overall, it is good to challenge long-held beliefs.

The group who devised the Guide included parents of children with FASD, women who used alcohol during pregnancy, community members from across Manitoba; including several First Nations communities, government representatives and service providers working with people who have FASD and their families. A great representation that I believe we should honour. Note: In 2018 I contacted the group because it did not say people with FASD were part of the committee, but they were!”

Linkto the guide: FASD Language Guide

(Read more…)

Day 16 of 99 Days to FASDAY: Confabulation

“Today’s NB tip is all about confabulation. I must admit I do not think I had ever heard the word confabulation before I adopted the maiden. I learned rather quickly though that she wasn’t lying – she was confabulating:

[k uhn-fab-y uh– ley-sh uhn]
1. the act of confabulating; conversation; discussion.
2. Psychiatry. the replacement of a gap in a person’s memory by a falsification that he or she believes to be true.

According to Teresa Kellerman in an article on the Come Over To website:

“Making up stories and telling tall tales is a normal part of being a typical 4-5 year old. Scientific research done by Dr. Edward Riley shows that many kids with FASD have an arrested social development that stops at about the level of a 4 to 6 year old. Is it reasonable for us to expect them to develop the social and moral conscience of an adult, or even that which we would expect of a typical 8-, 10-,or 12-year-old (whatever chronological age we might be dealing with)?”

Even though our children’s ability to control the lying might be impaired, rather than excuse the behavior, we need to deal with it in an effective manner.

So next time your child or adult son or daughter tells a tale that seems too tall, try to think about the brain based difference and see the bigger picture. Make enquiries, ask questions, investigate. Help them recall an incident instead of confronting them.

One of the techniques a therapist suggested we use to help the maiden with her recall was to draw a cartoon like picture to find out what happened BEFORE the incident as well as AFTER, not just the actual incident. For instance, if there was an incident that happened during recess, we drew a picture of the incident. Then we worked backwards and forwards. This didn’t always help, but sometimes I was able to get the bigger picture. I also learned rather quickly to ask teachers for their perspective, before I made up my mind about an incident based on the report from the maiden.”

(Read more…)

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…)