‘Give them a chance’: A son’s struggle with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

21-year-old Mark Lynn went missing on Aug. 24, near Dettah, N.W.T. He was confirmed dead earlier this month

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/mark-lynn-fasd-1.3773318

Jim Lynn lays beside his son. Mark Lynn, 21, went missing on Aug. 24, near Dettah, N.W.T. Earlier this month human remains found near the community were confirmed by the RCMP to be Mark's

Jim Lynn lays besides his son.  Mark Lynn, 21, went missing on Aug. 24, near Dettah, N.WT. Earlier this month human remains found near the community were confirmed by the RCMP to be Mark’s (Submitted by Jim Lynn)

 

The father of a man who went missing in Dettah, N.W.T., last month is sharing the story of his son’s turbulent past in hopes of reminding people that everyone deserves a second chance.

21-year-old Mark Lynn went missing on Aug. 24. Earlier this month, after two weeks of searching, human remains found near the community were confirmed by the RCMP to be Lynn’s.

The cause of death has not been determined.

The beginning of the downfall’

“[Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder] was certainly a difficulty for him,” said Mark’s father, Jim Lynn.

According to Jim, the symptoms associated with the disorder wreaked havoc on Mark’s life from an early age.

Struggling with behavior and basic decision making, Mark started getting into trouble with teachers and other authoritative figures.

“A lot of those things he seemed to do at school… he didn’t share… at home,” said Jim.

That’s why it “kind of came as a shock,” when Mark’s teachers began calling

 

Mark Lynn

Jim Lynn said he was not aware his son had Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder when he adopted him as a baby (Submitted by Jim Lynn)

 

According to Jim, those phone calls were the beginning of a long struggle with the education system.

By the time Mark was 11, he had been expelled from Yellowknife’s Weledeh Catholic School and from Kaw Tay Whee School in Dettah.

Jim says Mark was then prohibited from attending any public or Catholic schools in Yellowknife.

“That was the beginning of the downfall for my son really,” said Jim remorsefully.

“The kids [are] saying ‘you’re so dumb, you’re so stupid, you’re so bad. No school will even accept you, no school will even take you.'”

 

Mark Lynn

Jim said Mark started getting into trouble with teachers and other authoritative figures at an early age. (Submitted by Jim Lynn)

Jim said he pleaded with the Catholic school board to readmit his son. According to Jim, the board agreed to let Mark back on the condition that he seek treatment to address his behavior.

 

But the struggles continued, and Mark’s attendance was sporadic until Grade 9, when he dropped out for good.

CBC contacted both the Yellowknife Education District No.1 and the Yellowknife Catholic school boards. Neither board could not deny nor confirm Mark Lynn’s school history due to confidentiality.

Love hockey, biking, ‘anything with sports’

Jim said the family spent the years that followed trying to get Mark into counselling, but he remained closed off, and on many occasions refused to talk.

 

Mark Lynn

He loved his hockey. He loved to go biking actually…. he loved to ski board….. anything with sports, anything with outdoors, he certainly enjoyed,” said Jim Lynn. (Submitted by Jim Lynn)

 

Meanwhile, Jim tried to encourage his son to eke out whatever enjoyment and happiness he could.

“He loved his hockey. He loved to go biking actually… he loved to ski board… anything with sports, anything with outdoors, he certainly enjoyed.”

But Mark’s disorder, combined with the alcohol that made its way into his life at age 13, brought his behavioural problems to a whole new level, and Jim reached a breaking point last spring.

Mark had returned home after a night of drinking and became enraged — verbally and physically lashing out.

“I reached the end and thought that, you know, one way or another… he’s got to learn that’s… not acceptable. So the police were called and a restraining order was put on him.”

Jim said Mark left home immediately, and spent the next few months living on the streets.

 

Finally happy, but it didn’t last long

In a last-ditch effort to help, Jim rented his son a place to live, but the landlord refused to renew the lease, and Mark went to live with relatives.

The stability of living with family started to show, and Jim said his son started to turn his life around.

Mark stopped smoking marijuana and landed a job at one of the diamond mines.

 

Mark Lynn

21-year-old Mark Lynn went missing on Aug, 24 near Detah. Early this month, human remains found near the community were confirmed to be those of Mark’s. (Yellowknife RCMP)

 

Jim said his son was finally “happy,” but it didn’t last for long. Shortly after beginning work, Mark’s employer learned he had criminal charges pending, and he was told not to return until they were settled.

“That just tore him apart… and to my mind it was a fatal, fatal thing.”

 

 

 

 

 

Jim said his son returned to his old lifestyle of doing drugs, drinking, and dealing — and he often wonders what would have happened if his son had been met with a more compassionate and understanding response.

“You give them a chance. You not only give them a chance when they’re… innocent but even after they’re found guilty.”

 

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/mark-lynn-fasd-1.3773318

Disclaimer:  The views and opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Network.

Participants wanted for Canadian FASD Media Coverage Study!

The Prevention Conversation: A Shared Responsibility Project

soil-media-strategy

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…

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FASD Fails to Dumpen Tisha’s Sprits

Cape Town – For the first 10 weeks of her life Tisha Lourens lay in an incubator at Mowbray Maternity Hospital with no mother to love, cuddle or feed her much-needed breast milk.

Apart from being born prematurely, the effects of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) were so dreadful that her tiny body shivered from the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol.

Source: http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/western-cape/fas-fails-to-dampen-tishas-spirits-2068790

Tisha Lourens, with her foster mother Vivien, was born with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome and was expected to die as a baby, but 20 years on, she now holds down a job and has thrived. Picture: Cindy Waxa. Credit: INDEPENDENT MEDIA

Her biological mother, from Brown’s Farm in Philippi, had abandoned her in hospital, and wanted nothing to do with her.

When the then emergency foster mother for the Cape Town Child Welfare, Vivien Lourens of Pinelands, received the petite baby, who weighed just over 2kg, the first thing that came to her mind was to give her a bottle to feed.

“I realised then that she could not suckle. Her reflexes were so poorly developed due to FAS that she could not drink from the bottle. In panic I phoned the hospital telling them that the baby was not feeding. A nurse that answered just said Don’t worry about it, she won’t live beyond this weekend’,” Laurence recalled.

Not only did she have FAS symptoms, but she also had a congenital hole in the heart and an underdeveloped stomach valve, which pushed food up when she ate.

But after intensive multi-disciplinary therapy, including physiotherapy anjdoccupational therapy, and many visits to specialist doctors and psychologists at Red Cross Children’s Hospital, the now 20-year-old Tisha thrived and healed without needing surgery – shocking doctors and proving sceptics wrong.

Despite the absence of services and support for FAS babies, she survived against all odds.

Lourens, who also cares for another adult foster daughter, Carrie Lourens, who suffers from FAS spectrum disorder (FASD), said that despite the high prevalence of FAS in the country, many mothers lived in ignorance and knew very little or nothing about the effects of alcohol on the brain of an unborn child.

The latest research finds the country has the highest recorded rate of FAS in the world with scientists estimating that 10 percent of the population is affected by either FAS or the spectrum of disorders related to it.

Though Lourens was meant to look after Tisha and Carrie temporarily, she says that after falling in love with “these special babies”, her family could not let them go. “Everyone in my family just fell in love with Tisha and Carrie. They are the most wonderful human beings. They changed our lives in an amazing way, and we just could not let them go.

“I cared for Carrie from the age of eight months, and Tisha from just two months, so you can imagine the bond that I formed with them,” she said.

After years of pre-primary schooling and studying at Bel Porto special needs school, Tisha and Carrie now work at the Merrypak factory in Pinelands where they package and barcode goods.

Last Friday Tisha and Carrie celebrated the 17th World Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Day – an awareness initiative that Lourens and a group of FAS activists around the world initiated in 1999.

The experience of living with a FAS-affected child has seen Lourens starting the FAS Information Centre (Fasic) where she provides information and support to people who care for FAS children.

She also wrote a book called Living With Foetal Alcohol Syndrome: Our journey with Tisha, which tells her story of dealing with the syndrome and gives tips on how to deal with FAS. Children affected by either FAS or FASD suffer from physical and behavioural problems such as learning and memory; struggling to control their emotions; communication and socialising, among other things.

Lourens said despite predictions that Tisha would fall behind her milestones and only start walking at the age of four, “she managed to beat all odds and has met most physical milestones and was walking shortly after her first birthday” thanks to rigorous early interventions.

“She still can’t read or write as her mental state has been affected by FAS quite severely, but we managed to catch up with the physical ability. She mostly works with logos and can easily identify brands she is familiar with.

“Tisha is great with computers and has learnt most things on the internet. She is great with practical stuff, she can even make looms (elastic bracelets) – thanks to the internet,” she said.

During the Cape Argus visit to her work on Wednesday, all Tisha could say was: “I love my mom, she is the only mother I know. She is very nice, and treats me well.”

Disclaimer:  The views and opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Network.

Pregnancy and alcohol awareness gets backing

 

EVESHAM’S MP Nigel Huddleston has backed a pregnancy and alcohol awareness programme following a visit to the Meadow Birth Centre at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

Source: http://eveshamobserver.co.uk/news/pregnancy-alcohol-awareness-gets-backing/

Pregnancy and alcohol awareness gets backingWritten by: Aaron Wise published September 19, 2016

The Mid Worcestershire MP attended the launch of the Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Trust’s awareness programme on changes to guidance on pregnancy and alcohol, last Friday (September 9).

In January 2016 the chief medical officers updated their guidance on pregnancy and alcohol to recommend no alcohol is consumed in pregnancy.

However a new survey of pregnant women has found that more than 40 per cent of women carry on drinking during pregnancy.

The survey highlighted the critical role midwives have in educating women and of the women who were aware of the new guidelines, most were informed by a midwife or health visitor, while the media and online were also identified as other significant sources of information.

Due to this, the FASD Trust are launching a new campaign, targeting midwives throughout the UK with the simple message of ‘My baby’s too young to drink’.

Midwives will receive a warning poster highlighting the dangers of drinking during pregnancy, as well as further information about FASD, resources to help boost awareness and a helpline number for support.

At the Worcestershire Royal, Mr Huddleston met Rachel Duckett, interim divisional medical director, Cathy Garlick, divisional director of operations and Fay Baillie, divisional director of nursing and midwifery.

Mr Huddleston said: “It was a huge pleasure to meet everyone last Friday. I was deeply impressed by all I saw and heard at the Meadow Birth Centre and pleased to have the chance to support this important awareness campaign.

“FASD leaves a baby with a range of physical, behavioural and cognitive difficulties for the rest of their life. I know no mother would want their child to have to go through this which is why it’s so important we raise the awareness of why women should not drink alcohol during pregnancy.

“I know this is something midwives locally are strongly supportive of and with their support I hope this campaign will be a success,” he added.

Disclaimer:  The views and opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Network.

The Official Guardian – Free Webcast

Join The Alberta Human Services for the Official Guardian webinar.  This webinar will provide details on the important ‘official Guardian” function, which is performed by the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee.

opgt-free-webinar

 

Click here to register for the webinar

Halton FASD intervention team hopes to beat the odds for those living with the irreversible disorder

A brain that has difficulty making sound decisions from cradle to grave faces a litany of labels in life; from being the bad kid in school to the one standing before a criminal court judge in their adolescence and adulthood.

Not only do people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) struggle in school and society, 60 per cent of them will have contact with the criminal justice system and are 19 times more likely to be incarcerated, says Kaitlyn McLachlan, a forensic psychiatrist with McMaster University.

Source: http://www.insidehalton.com/community-story/6861941-halton-fasd-intervention-team-hopes-to-beat-the-odds-for-those-living-with-the-irreversible-disorder/

Kaitlyn McLachlan

Kaitlyn McLachlan – Photo by Nikki Wesley – Burlington Post

 

McLachlan delivered the sobering statistic last Friday (Sept. 9), on International FASD day, to about 50 Halton advocates working to alter that future for people with the incurable and lifelong disability.

According to haltonfasd.ca, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is an umbrella term used to describe the brain damage caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy. This brain-based disorder is permanent and irreversible with varying symptoms. The effects can be neurological, behavioural and physical. FASD is the leading known cause of preventable disability among Canadians. Although individuals with FASD cannot be cured, they are able to still lead rewarding and successful lives.

While between one and five per cent of the nation’s population has been diagnosed with FASD, they represent a “staggering” one-quarter of those incarcerated in this country, says McLachlan.

“It’s a pretty big problem.”

Part of her job involves explaining to the courts or a review board what got the convicted person with FASD into trouble.

“But by the time people come to see me, we’ve really missed the boat,” said McLachlan.

She said there are not enough resources for women in communities at risk to prevent FASD, which was finally recognized as a disability in 1973.

Nor is there enough money spent on increasing awareness or resources and education, she added.

In Halton there’s a move to change this.

At Friday’s celebration of International FASD Day, Roxanne Young, chair of the Halton FASD intervention group, introduced the 20 members of a region-wide resource team.

These professionals from various local agencies, including police, schools, public health, mental health and addictions support, will work with individuals and families in the community dealing with FASD. They will also work on prevention and awareness.

“We offer support, hope and understanding,” added Young.

“We want a community where people touched with FASD want to move to.”

For more information visit Halton FASD’s website at haltonfasd.ca.

Disclaimer:  The views and opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Network.

FASD Impacts You, But You Don’t Know it (Nora Boesem) – 48th Video Series

This is a truly touching story of a foster mom talking about the struggles of her little girl with FASD.  Her daughter, Arianna, was born 13 weeks early with every organ in her tiny body affected by alcohol.  She was at one point asked to come say goodbye to her dying daughter while in the hospital but miraculously comes back.

Arianna’s story is not unique to her.  Thousands of baby who were exposed to alcohol during pregnancy go through the same thing.  Would you help educate the public about the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy?

 

 

 

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