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With so much information to take in, it’s sometimes easy to get caught up in research papers, news articles, and statistics and become detached from the real reason that all of this information exists in the first place: The individual people who are affected by FASD.

So for this week’s blog post, I thought I’d take things to a more personal level and post a letter that I found through the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, written by a young lady with FASD.

100 Mile House Free Press published a letter written by Shirlana Vance that she had written and read aloud for FASD day on September 9 in 100 Mile House, BC. She writes with a confident and inspirational tone about her future goals along with the struggles she has dealt with and the help she has had along the way to get to the place where she is today. 

Shirlana speaks about bringing out the strengths and abilities in someone with FASD, stating that “Confidence is key most definitely, along with structure and stability”.

 

Click here to read Shirlana’s letter.

 

 

And, in keeping with our intervention theme, the article notes that Shirlana recently completed a youth employment services program at The Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre (CFEC) in 100 Mile House. CFEC is a non-profit society which runs numerous programs and services for families and individuals, based on the needs of the community, including a program specific to FASD which provides support, information, resources, and assistance with accessing diagnosis and assessment.

To Our Readers

We encourage you to share your stories here, too.

Do you know someone with FASD  who has had a particularly positive influence in their life, like Shirlana has with her parents and CFEC?

Please feel free to share with a comment!

This summer, CBC North broadcasted 3 interviews on FASD intervention on their Trailbreaker program. The Trailbreaker is a morning radio program out of the Northwest Territories (NWT) with host Joslyn Oosenbrug.

In the first segment, “Dealing with FASD,” Oosenburg interviews Sharon Brintnell, professor in occupational therapy at the University of Alberta, about her 3C program. The program, now finished, supported male inmates with FASD in their reintegration into the community. Transitional support workers helped offenders with FASD navigate social systems by providing counseling and assistance with things like finding a job, accessing housing, and starting a bank account. Participants also spent time exploring and practicing healthy lifestyle activities.

You can read more about Sharon Brintnell’s 3C program on the University of Alberta website or in the Government of Alberta Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Cross-Ministry Committee’s Fall 2011 Newsletter: “Taking Action of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder” (Page 2).

The second segment, “Changing Our Approach to FASD,” features an interview with FASD Project Coordinator for the Northwest Territories Department of Justice, Doreen Reid. Reid speaks about FASD in the justice system in NWT and ways of working with individuals to prevent offence and re-offence.

In the third segment, “FASD Interventions,” Oosenburg speaks with Lori Twissell, FASD coordinator at Stanton Hospital in Yellowknife. Twissell speaks about her role as family liaison with the NWT Diagnostic team. She discusses the team’s experience with families from diagnosis to debriefing and the placement of intervention supports.

 

 

On last week’s post, one of our readers commented on the need for support and services for teens and adults with FASD and how a lack of support often causes these individuals to end up in serious trouble. So when a neighbour of mine pointed out an article about FASD and the criminal justice system in this summer’s edition of the Canadian Bar Association’s (CBA) National Magazine, I thought it would be a relevant post.

The feature article,  “A Different Kind of Justice“, focuses on issues regarding FASD within the Canadian criminal justice system. The article states: “The criminal justice system was never designed to accommodate the reality of people affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder,” alluding to the assumption that offenders act willfully and are capable of remembering and learning from the consequences of their actions, which is often not the case for those with FASD.

The article also discusses progress in finding solutions for those with FASD in the justice system, particularly in the Yukon, and provides a number of measures suggested by the CBA Advisory Committee and members of the Federal Provincial Territorial FASD Steering Committee to improve justice for people with FASD. The CBA website offers a more detailed summary of these measures from a meeting between the two committees last March.

As last week’s reader’s comment and the article both express, the most important course of action will be to give those with FASD appropriate supports to prevent the need for involvement in the criminal justice system in the first place. However, there are still individuals who are without adequate support and are finding themselves in trouble. On a positive note, it is encouraging that the criminal justice system in Canada is recognizing the problem and exploring solutions.

There appears to be an increasing awareness of the shortcomings of our system and a desire to make a change. Earlier this year, the University of British Columbia’s 4th International Conference on FASD included a plenary and panel session on this topic, where similar issues and solutions were discussed. Webcasts and presentations from the conference are available online.

To our readers

We would love to hear more from you! Are there intervention programs for adults with FASD in your community? Do you have a success story you would like to share?

When dealing with FASD interventions, there are many services and programs to consider. With the diverse range of primary and secondary difficulties faced by those affected by FASD, it makes sense that there are numerous approaches catering to different aspects of the disorder.

Given the numerous approaches to FASD intervention (from academic program modification, to caregiver supports, to drug prescription and developmental therapy and so on), I thought it would be a good place to start by giving readers a “what’s out there” post. What better way to begin a blog about FASD intervention than to post a recent research article that reviews the current empirically tested behavioural interventions for children and adolescents with FASD?

Paley and O’Connor recently published an article in Alcohol Research and Health entitled Behavioral Interventions for Children and Adolescents With Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. The authors discuss the behavioural interventions being empirically tested to remediate the issues surrounding FASD, and the challenges faced in developing these interventions along with directions for future research.

To our readers:

Communication is a key aspect of this blog. We would love to hear from you! Please feel free to add a comment or answer one of the questions below!

Some questions for our readers to stimulate discussion

How are you involved with FASD interventions?

Are you a caregiver/service provider? What types of interventions do you currently use and what have you tried in the past?

What types of interventions have you had success with in the past?

What would you like to see more of from our blog? (I.e. news articles, research, current events)

Welcome to the FASD Interventions Across the Lifespan blog!

This blog seeks to share information about the intervention needs and services for individuals affected by FASD across the lifespan. Whether you are a caregiver, service provider, policy maker, researcher, have FASD yourself, or know someone who is affected, we hope to provide you with a source of information for news, research, and current events regarding FASD interventions.

This blog was created by members of the Intervention Network Action Team (iNAT) of the Canada Northwest FASD Research Network (CanFASD Northwest). The iNAT seeks to build research, knowledge and connections in an effort to improve FASD intervention policy, practice and outcomes. In order to do so, communication plays an important role. Please feel free to comment, ask questions, and share information.

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