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KnowFASD

After what seems like far too long, KnowFASD is back in operation! To those of you who use the site regularly and have been waiting for its return, thank you for your patience.

If you have never visited the site, please feel free to drop by and check it out! Take a browse through the interactive home page and learn more/find help on the site’s wiki.

Our goal with KnowFASD is to provide a comprehensive site where viewers can learn about the neurobehavioural deficits associated with FASD throughout the lifespan and link to intervention options.

The main homepage of the website is an interactive interface where viewers can scroll through the lifespan of individuals with FASD, with neurobehavioural issues at each developmental stage presented as they may appear in day-to-day life. By clicking on a neurobehavioural issue, viewers are directed to a “wiki” (which works in a similar fashion to Wikipedia) housing information from current research on the neurobehavioural issue at hand. Each wiki page discusses a specific neurobehavioural issue: how it presents, potential causes, and potential consequences. At the bottom of each page, a link is provided to topic-specific intervention options.

Please feel free to visit the site, pass it along, and give us your feedback or suggestions. Check back often as we continue to upload information, links, and resources.

Visit KnowFASD

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Image source: http://winnipeg.ctvnews.ca/fasd-school-program-engages-students-with-video-game-1.1877439#.U6hPTmyJdeA.wordpress

In 2012, we posted “A Video Game that Actually Helps” about a video game called “Caribbean Quest” designed for kids with FASD.  The game aims to improve cognitive function and self regulation and has shown promising results thus far.

Caribbean Quest has been used with children on a one-to-one basis with a support coach and in small groups through the University of Victoria and and the University of Alberta. Research will now take place in larger groups at David Livingston School in Winnipeg to determine the efficacy of the game in a classroom setting.

Read/view news about the program through CTV Winnipeg 

Learn more about Caribbean quest through the University of Victoria

*Note: Given that iNAT researchers have been involved with the implementation of the program, we have received several questions regarding distribution of the game for public use. Unfortunately, the game is still in the “research” stages and is not currently available for public use. We will be sure to let you know if it becomes available!

For those of you who have not yet subscribed, here is last month’s iNAT FASD intervention newsletter. This edition Includes a feature on new and exciting strength based interventions through the University of the Fraser Valley, a new research paper  on the cost of addiction treatment for those with FASD, and information on upcoming conferences and events.

Read the newsletter and subscribe for future editions

knowfasd

We recently featured our newest project, KnowFASD, in the latest edition of our iNAT newsletter. For those of you who have not yet subscribed to the iNAT newsletter, here is some information about KnowFASD:

Our goal with KnowFASD is to provide a comprehensive site where viewers can learn about the neurobehavioural deficits associated with FASD throughout the lifespan and link to intervention options.

The main homepage of the website is an interactive interface where viewers can scroll through the lifespan of individuals with FASD, with neurobehavioural issues at each developmental stage presented as they may appear in day-to-day life. By clicking on a neurobehavioural issue, viewers are directed to a “wiki” (which works in a similar fashion to Wikipedia) housing information from current research on the neurobehavioural issue at hand. Each wiki page discusses a specific neurobehavioural issue: how it presents, potential causes, and potential consequences. At the bottom of each page, a link is provided to topic-specific intervention options.

Please feel free to visit the site, pass it along, and give us your feedback or suggestions. Check back often as we continue to categorize and upload information.

Visit KnowFASD

The Do2Learn website is a fantastic site if you are looking for ways to practice learning at home or if you are looking for resources to pass along to educators, caregivers, service providers, and more!

Although the site is not specific to FASD, the resources target some of the toughest areas for individuals with FASD, such as academics, social skills, behaviour management, communication, and daily living skills. The pages have great ideas for activities in home, community, and classroom settings.

Academics

Difficulties in academic subjects such as reading, spelling, and math are common for individuals with FASD. These difficulties often become worse as the individual gets older, so early intervention is very important. The academics section on the Do2Learn site includes activities to promote the development of many academic skills. Topics include:

  • Fine motor skills
  • Language
  • Visual discrimination
  • Literacy
  • Math
  • Learning Strategies

Go to the academics section

Social Skills

Many aspects of social functioning are difficult for people with FASD. They may have trouble with getting along with others, making and keeping friends, understanding feelings and emotions, and acting appropriately in social situations. Just like academics, social difficulties can become more of a problem as the individual with FASD enters adolescence and adulthood. The social skills section on the website includes many activities to work on social functioning. Topics include:

  • Communication skills
  • Social behaviour
  • Social skills toolbox
  • Emotions colour wheel
  • Social emotional skills

Go to the social skills section

Behaviour management

Individuals with FASD often have behaviour difficulties. Some of these behaviour difficulties may show up as defiance, acting out, temper tantrums, aggression, stealing, etc. It is important to remember that these behaviours are usually not intentional. Negative behaviours often occur secondary to other difficulties, such as environmental stresses, lack of understanding, poor cognitive ability, or unreasonable expectations. The Do2Learn website keeps this in mind with suggestions for:

  • Classroom strategies to promote good behaviour and accommodate students with special needs
  • Resources to help understand and deal with the underlying causes of behaviour
  • Behaviour management strategies

Go to the behaviour management section

For Adolescents and Adults:

There is also a great “jobTIPS” resource for older adolescents and adults looking to get involved in the work force. JobTIPS takes the individual through a user-friendly job-planning process with step by step instructions, tips, and resources. Featured topics include:

  • Determining Interests: The client discovers what their interests and strengths are and what they need to work on (i.e. social skills)
  • Finding a Job: Different ways to look for work
  • Getting a Job: How to navigate the application and interview process
  • Keeping a Job: Keeping up with workplace expectations and how to behave in a work setting
  • Other Job Topics: Such as how to leave employment, legal rights in the workplace, etc.

For our readers:

Is there a resource on the Do2Learn website you have found particularly helpful? Leave a comment and share it here!

What other sites/resources have you found helpful?

References:

Kodituwakku, P. W. (2007) Defining the behavioral phenotype in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: a reviewNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 31, 192-201.

Kodituwakku, P. W. (2009) Neurocognitive profile in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders Developmental Disabilities, 15, 218-224.

Mattson, S. N., Crocker, N., & Nguyen, T. T. (2011). Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: neuropsychological and behavioral features. Neuropsychology Review, 21, 81-101.

McGee, C.L., & Riley, E.P. (2007). Social and behavioral functioning in individuals with prenatal alcohol exposure. International Journal on Disability and Human Development, 6(4), 369-382.

Rasmussen, C. & Wyper, K. (2007). Decision making, executive functioning, and risky behaviours in adolescents with prenatal alcohol exposure. International Journal on Disability and Human Development, 6(4), 405-416.

Parents: wouldn’t it be nice to say “go play your video games” for a change? Imagine a video game that has been researched and  can actually improve the mental functioning of a child with FASD…

It’s a possibility!

An article printed Monday in the Vancouver Sun and the Edmonton Journal highlights new FASD intervention research from the University of Alberta and the University of Victoria. Children taking part in the intervention play a video game called “Caribbean Quest” where they work on their cognitive and self-regulation skills with an intervention coach. The students in the study have improved and MRI scans have shown changes in the white matter of the brain.

Read the article

Also mentioned in the article is an upcoming FASD resource and educational website (which will be featured on this blog when released) and the Wellness, Resilience, and Partnership project, which involves coaches working in schools with Jr. and Sr. high school kids with FASD to provide academic, emotional, and social supports.

Learn more about Alberta Education’s FASD resources for teachers.

Want to get involved in research?

The American Journal  of Occupational Therapy recently published an article on FASD entitled Neurocognitive Habilitation Therapy for Children With Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: An Adaptation of the Alert Program by Wells et. al.

The authors carried out a neurocognitive habilitation group therapy with the goal of  increasing self-regulation in kids with FASD. The therapy consisted of a 12 week program using techniques adapted from the Alert Program, in which children learn to identify their state of regulation by recognizing when they are over-aroused (their engine is running “too high”), under-aroused (their engine is running “too low”), or at an optimal state of alertness (their engine is running “just right”). The program incorporated a family/caregiver education component, traumatic brain injury treatment strategies, and self-regulation strategies for the child based on their arousal level and situational factors.

Difficulties with self-regulation tie into executive function (higher level cognitive functions, such as inhibition, problem solving, attention, planning, etc) which is a common area of impairment in individuals with FASD. The overall goal of the study was to “improve executive functioning skills and emotional regulation related to the children’s home and school environment”. The Behaviour Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF), a parent questionnaire, was used to measure executive function behaviours, and the Roberts Apperception Test for Children (RATC) was used to measure the child’s problem solving skills by assessing the child’s interpretation of common interpersonal situations.

Both measures showed significant improvements in the group of children who received the intervention over those who did not reveal the intervention. This could indicate that neurocognitive habilitation therapy can improve executive functioning and emotional problem solving skills in children with FASD. This finding is particularly valuable because the intervention was performed in a group setting, which is much more akin to real life than a clinical one-on-one setting. The child’s home and school environments generally contain many other people, with numerous stimuli and distractions. The neurocognitive habilitation program creates a group setting and teaches children to get in touch with internal indicators of dysregulation in order to manage their emotional regulation in the presence of external stimuli and distractions.

Read the full article here.

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