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Hello readers –

CanFASD is hosting a new blog called CanFASD Connect at and we will no longer be updating here at FASDintervention. This intervention blog will remain online so you can continue to access earlier posts, but all new postings will be at CanFASD Connect. Please join us there for weekly posts on FASD prevention, intervention, diagnosis, social justice, child welfare, and family collaboration. We will be sharing newly published FASD research, book reviews, researcher profiles, program highlights, and more.

Our CanFASD researchers will also continue to post at and


The CanFASD Intervention Network Action Team




Participants wanted for Canadian FASD Media Coverage Study! Please see the below for study information:

Participants wanted for a group interview study about FASD!
We want to talk to you about your experiences with FASD. In particular, we want to hear your thoughts and feelings about examples of Canadian FASD media coverage, to think about how to more effectively communicate information about FASD. Your perspective will be invaluable in helping us to better understand FASD, and the way it is discussed in the public sphere.
Who can participate?
We want to include key stakeholders, like: 1) adults with FASD; 2) parents of and caregivers for people with FASD; 3) healthcare professionals with experience diagnosing or caring for patients with FASD; and 4) FASD communicators (e.g., journalists, public health officials).
What does the study look like?
This study will involve participation in a 90-minute group interview in English. Each interview will include only one stakeholder group at a time (e.g., only adults with FASD, only parents). You will be compensated for your time.
How can I get involved?
If you feel you match the above criteria, please send an email to:
We will send you a brief online questionnaire to fill out, as well as the informed consent
document for you to look over when deciding whether or not to participate. Sending us an email does not mean you have agreed to participate, and you can choose to stop at any time.
For more information or if you have any questions, please contact John Aspler at:, or at (514) 987-5500 (extension 3356).

Study Title: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in the Canadian print news media: A study of media discourse and key stakeholder perspectives
This study is conducted by an interdisciplinary team of bioethicists and scientists:
John Aspler, BSc, Doctoral candidate, Neuroethics Research Unit, Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM).
Eric Racine, PhD, Director of the Neuroethics Research Unit, Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM), 110 avenue des Pins Ouest, Montréal QC H2W 1R7, Tel.: 514 987-5723, email:
James Reynolds, PhD, Centre for Neuroscience Studies, Queens University.

If you would like to read our previous blog post on FASD and Media Click here!

The following post will discuss the media and its over all impact on society, summarize the an Australian study on the topic of media portrayal and FASD, and how it all relates back to FASD Intervention across the lifespan. Enjoy!

mass-media-poster-11The media can be thought of like a massive complex web of communication and information that passes through many portals before being consumed by the public or members of a society. After awhile, this information, either explicitly or implicitly communicated becomes difficult to dissect and be critical of. Knowing what information and who is a credible source can be become a challenging task due to the vast amount of imposing information that we receive on a daily basis.

Unfortunatley we consume media whether we want to or not. Thus it becomes crucial to question media information and the stories we are being told as well as how they are being framed. Framing issues in a certain way is powerful and can be especially harmful when the media, regardless of its intention, releases  information in a  way that negatively impacts individuals.

The Research:

In the context of media and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) researchers Equiagaray, Scholz, and Giorgi’s (2016) analyzed the way media portrays FASD and the controversial issues that surround it.

Equiagaray et al. (2016) utilized a framing analysis in order to answer their research question, “How is FASD framed by media reports?” They define “framing” from Enman (1993) as, “as a conceptual lens that brings certain aspects of reality into sharper focus (emphasizing a particular way to understand an issue).” Enman (2007) continues to explain framing as encouraging the audience to think and feel a certain way after consuming media.

Overall the researchers found that the media frames FASD in two ways: frames of sympathy and frames of shame. The sympathy frames were found to be extended to individuals with FASD as well as to the mothers of these individuals or children. Conversely, frames that communicated shame were directed towards the mothers of these individuals or children.

Continually, Equiagaray et al. (2016) found that the sympathy frames were more likely to be directed towards the children with FASD. As well, children with FASD are often described as”frail” that leads to disenfranchisement. Shaming media frames were directed toward the mothers of children with FASD. The media would often refer to the mothers as “irresponsible” and “villainous.” Equiagaray et al. (2016) suggests that shaming media framing shuts down support and further isolates mothers and their families. This is detrimental to the potential access individuals and their families have to services and interventions that can benefit them.

The researchers also reported that  health care professionals and government policy makers were shamed for not being informed enough to make safe recommendations, or having confusing messages about alcohol consumption during pregnancy and lastly for the lack of effective policy to reduce the rates of FASD (Equiagaray et al. 2016). Although it is easy to focus blame on scapegoats such as the mothers, health care system and government it is important to look at the issues surrounding FASD with a holistic perspective. This is not to discount responsibility or minimize the effect that these parties have, but to establish an inclusive and non-judgmental dialogue on the impact that FASD has on the community. As well as to support those effected by FASD through awareness and intervention.

The solution that the researchers presented is simple: promote media frame works that challenge the shaming discourse around FASD. In turn, the public, government and health care services can work towards the non-judgmental support for those who need it.

The study is titled: Sympathy, shame, and few solutions: News media portrayals of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Please use this link to access the full article.



April 16th, 2016 The Current on CBC radio presented an episode on Bill C-235 proposed by Liberal MP Larry Bagnell introduced in January of this year. Bill C-235 targets those affected by fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) that are seemingly caught in the “revolving door” of the criminal justice system in Canada. Offenders involved in the Canadian criminal justice system are often a forgotten demographic of individuals with limited access to effective FASD specific interventions and community transitional programs. 

For more information on Bill C-235 or to listen to the full CBC radio program on this topic please click the above links.

In order to better support those affected by FASD in the Canadian criminal justice system Bill C-235 is proposing the following changes in legislation:

  • Access to assessments for individuals suspected of having FASD

  • Allowing assessment to inform sentencing of these offenders

  • Reintegration plan for community transitions

The CBC radio episode features an interview with Russ Hilsher who has FASD and is a spokesperson for Initiatives for Just communities and discusses his personal experience in the Canadian criminal justice system and the need for programs and services for individuals with FASD involved in this system. As well as discussions on the proposed Bill C-235  with Jonathan Rudin, program director of Aboriginal Legal services and chair of FASD Justice Committee and Dan Brodsky, criminal defense lawyer with the Association in the Defense of the Wrongly Convicted

NDN FASD and Stigma
The FASD Research Program at NeuroDevNet has just completed another new video: “FASD & Stigma: Damaged Angels Can Fly” featuring Colette Philcox and her mother, Bonnie Buxton.


NDN Video

NeuroDevNet, a research network dedicated to understanding brain development and to helping children and their families overcome the challenges of neurodevelopmental disorders, has recently created a video on the stigma surrounding drinking during pregnancy, exploring some of the reasons a woman may drink while pregnant.



Conference agenda and registration now available for the 7th National Biennial Conference on Adolescents and Adults with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)!

Research on FASD tends to focus on childhood, with a relatively small body of literature on the effects of FASD later in life. Given that FASD is a lifelong condition, it is essential that research investigate the effects of these diagnoses throughout the lifespan- including adolescence and adulthood- which is exactly what this conference focuses on! You can even check out a presentation by iNAT members (creators of this blog) about findings from our research on caregiver needs, partnered with the University of Alberta (the presentation is titled “Supporting Adolescents and Adults with FASD: The Impact on Caregivers”).

The conference will take place April 6-9, 2016 in Vancouver, BC.

For more information, check out the links below:

Conference Website

Conference Brochure outlining program/presentations and general information



Research participation opportunity for families in Edmonton with children with FASD  or prenatal alcohol exposure age 5-13. Typically developing children are also invited to participate!

The study involves a memory training program aimed at improving your child’s working memory. The program can be completed on your own computer at home. Please click on the image above to learn more.


The latest edition of the iNAT FASD Intervention Newsletter is now available!

This season’s newsletter includes a spotlight on an Ontario school with an FASD-specific program, information about Dr. Michelle Stewart, (CanFASD’s Strategic Lead for Justice Interventions), and a sneak peak of findings from our research examining caregiver needs and stress.

You can read a copy of the newsletter here and subscribe to receive future editions.

Source: Register Now for the December 04, 2015 FASD Webcast

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