FASD and the Criminal Justice System

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Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is the most common preventable cause of developmental disability in Canada. Individuals with FASD frequently come into contact with many areas of the justice system: as victims of crime, as witnesses, as individuals in conflict with the law, and in family and civil law matters. There is a need for enhanced understanding of the concerns of people living with FASD in all of these areas of the justice system.

Take a peak at the full paper!


People with FASD by NOFAS Alcohol Free Pregnancy

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A great series, watch, learn and pass along!

Originally posted on Better Safe Than Sorry!:

“People with FASD”, a series by NOFAS from their YouTube channel Alcohol-Free Pregnancy. Watch 15 clips of people affected by FASD talking about their struggles in life because they were prenatal exposed to alcohol and how they deal with it. Honor and Respect to all speaking out and advocating!


View original

Transitioning A Teenager to Adulthood

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The transition from teenager to adulthood can be a trying time for teens with FASD and parents and can also pose unique challenges. All teenagers want independence and freedom to make choices. As a parent or caregiver of a youth with FASD it is important to keep in mind that teens with FASD are usually developmentally younger than their age peers in a number of ways. So while 18 is usually a benchmark for ‘adulthood’ you must assess your child’s developmental age. You may need to find ways to safely respect your child’s desire for independence and freedom while keeping your expectations (and those of society) in check with their strength and challenges. 

Transition planning is an important step to help the adjustment to the next phase in your child’s life. Parents should consider several things when planning for their teen’s transition into adulthood. Start planning well before they turn 18. Help prepare your teen for this transition period by:

  1. Ensure that your teenager has been assessed by an appropriate professional and has all current diagnostic assessments in place. The assessment results may assist in determining whether or not your child qualifies for certain supports and services.
  2. Find out what your teen’s hopes and dreams are for the future.
  3. Include family, school and other professionals in the transition planning. Help your teen gain more understanding and acceptance of the type of support they may need in adulthood.
  4. Consider living arrangements. Would your child benefit from living at home as an adult or in supported living situations? If your child is able to live ‘independently’, remember they may need extra support to be financially safe. Be creative in coming up with ideas to help them with budgeting, so they can be successful in paying rent and fulfilling other basic needs (ex. direct payment for rent, utilities and other monthly bills). Keep in mind that your teen may be very generous with their money which leaves them vulnerable to financial victimization.
  5. When your teen is looking for work, help them build on their strengths and abilities. Remember that a busy, high paced work environment may not be a good fit. You may want to consider a supervised work placement. Encourage your teen to discuss their strengths and challenges with their employer, as well as ways to increase success in the workplace.

Transition planning takes time so start early! For more information and resources in the Edmonton and area please email: edmontonefan@gmail.com

Strategies Not Solutions: EFAN

Healthy Child Manitoba: What Parents and Caregivers Need to Know About FASD

A Restful Night

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Another night, another hopeful parent, “Please just go to sleep”.

Bedtime can often be a difficult time for both parents and children with an FASD. While not all bedtime strategies work for all individuals, if you do have children with sleep difficulties why not try:

  • To help a child transition from alert and wakeful state to a calm and restful state, try applying calming practices, such as a back rub or some gentle squeezing of the feet, legs, hands and arms.
  • An auditory sensitive child may need total quiet to fall asleep. If this is not possible, try some alternative white noise. A fan, the dryer or an aquarium with a pump just may do the trick!
  • Give older children a light snack before bed. Oral input is often calming in nature. Find out what kind of snacks help settle versus ones that are alerting. Oral inputs that are spicy, sour, cold, and chewy tend to be more alerting.
  • For the child who needs time to settle or wakes up during the night, have a basket or list of acceptable things they can do in their bedroom. You could provide an oil-and-water toy to watch, stuffed animal or picture book.
  • Think of activities between dinner and bedtime as a time for your child to begin winding down. Avoid activities that are exciting and alerting, such as rough play.
  • Remember that deep pressure touch is calming. Have blankets and pillow on your couch available for them to tightly wrap up in and snuggle.
  • Avoid “electronic caffeine” a couple hours before bed. Video games, TV and computers affect the ability to go to sleep!
  • Use a visual schedule to help your child learn the pre-bedtime routine!

Good night!

Sleep Strategies

Healthy Child Manitoba: What Parents and Caregivers Need to Know About FASD.

Individual Responses to Alcohol

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As a woman, it is important to understand how alcohol impacts your own body. If we are going to address and prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder while also tackling other alcohol related risks it is important that we understand that the effects of consuming alcohol vary greatly from one person to the next. There are several factors that affect a woman’s response to alcohol.


Women are more vulnerable than men to alcohol’s effects. This means that even after drinking smaller amounts, women generally feel greater effects for a longer period of time. Three factors help explain the reasons women’s and men’s bodies break down alcohol differently.

  1. Women have less water in their bodies to help dilute the alcohol in their blood streams.
  2. Women’s bodies absorb alcohol at a slower rate.
  3. Women have lower levels of a particular enzyme that breaks down alcohol in their bodies.



The effects of alcohol vary according to physical size. Women who are smaller and/or weigh less will often have a more intense reaction to alcohol. Some women quickly feel the effects of alcohol with only a couple drinks. These women should drink less than the recommended low risk drinking guidelines.


Heave drinking can be a reaction to stressful events in women’s lives. Women often report using substances to deal with negative feelings or problems and to raise their confidence. Women’s use of alcohol and other substances is commonly linked to:

  • Domestic violence
  • Violence and abuse experienced as a child
  • Sexual assault

Women’s drinking levels are often influenced by their partner’s drinking patterns as well as stress in the relationship. Social expectations and judgements about parenting can add shame and fear for women with alcohol problems. As a result women may:

  • Not get help as soon as they need to
  • Get help for problems other than alcohol use
  • Not get referred to alcohol treatment

As women try to balance several different roles and responsibilities, they can experience a great deal of stress. While a small amount of alcohol may relieve stress in the short term, drinking to reduce stress may increase your anxiety levels and lead to alcohol dependence.



Research suggests that the brains and bodies of young women who drink may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. Drinking can affect critical physical development during adolescence and young adulthood. Younger women who drink increase their risk of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

Young women need to recognize the short and long term health and social effects of drinking when they are deciding how much and when to drink.

As we age, the kidneys, liver, cardiovascular system and brain all change. These changes make the elimination of alcohol less efficient and can make us more sensitive to the effects of alcohol. It takes less alcohol for older women to feel the effects of alcohol, so it’s important for them to remember this when deciding how much to drink.


Research shows that some people are biologically at risk of developing a drinking problem. It is important to consider what role alcohol has had in your own family. There are no hard fast rules however. Even if you have a family history of alcohol addiction, it doesn’t mean you will necessarily have the same problems. In the same way, people without a family history of alcohol addiction can develop alcohol problems.

Healthy Child Manitoba: Girls, Women and Alcohol


What Doesn’t Work and Why

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School Kids and Their Parents

Parenting is usually based on well known methods such as:

* time-outs

* grounding

*using consequences

* discipline involving added work/chores

* contracts/positive rewards

* verbal consequences

We turn to these strategies because we know them, they are popular. We are familiar with the use of consequences and cause-and-effect reasoning to manage behaviour.

Unfortunately, these parenting methods do not recognize the brain differences of people living with an FASD. They fail to consider that some brains have difficulty storing and retrieving information, forming associations, generalizing, thinking abstractly and predicting.

When using strategies to deal with behaviour, it is important to remember:

  • Typical strategies and learning-based parenting are not wrong, but they may not match how your child with FASD understands the world.
  • Look for patterns of behaviour, anticipate problems and change the situation. This will help prevent the need for punishment and consequences.
  • Pay attention to your child’s most effective learning style and build on their strengths associated with this style.

Health Child Manitoba: What Parents and Caregivers Need to Know About FASD p.39

Brain Domains Affected By FASD

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Brain Domains Potentially Damaged By Prenatal Exposure To Alcohol

Certain domains of the brain are potentially affected by alcohol use during pregnancy. Damage to these areas and through an assessment can lead to a diagnosis within the FASD spectrum. The domains are:

  • Academic Skills
  • Focus and Attention
  • Thinking and Reasoning
  • Communication
  • Memory
  • Executive Functioning
  • Sensory
  • Living and Social Skills (Social Adaptive)
  • Brain Structure 

Revisions are currently being made to the Canadian Diagnostic Guidelines for FASD, which will include changes to the brain domains.

Brain Domains Image