Author Archives: edmontonfetalalcoholnetwork

December 2017 Meeting Minutes


Did you miss our December 2017 Supports and Services or Network meeting? Just click to download the minutes!

December 5 2017 Supports and Services meeting-minutes

December 5 2017 Society-meeting-minutes


I said I wouldn’t adopt a child with FASD—and now I have four

Today’s Parent CHRISTEN SHEPHERD published an article on 



It was a scorching day so I’d taken my children to a splash pad. I was watching my daughters dancing in the water, when out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of my nine-year-old son, Allan, dart into the parking lot. He ran right in front of a moving car, which had to swerve not to hit him. I bolted over and grabbed him by the arm.

“Why would you do that? You could have been killed!”

This came as a surprise to Allan. He’d spotted a bee at the splash pad and run from it, not thinking for a moment that hurtling through the parking lot held far greater dangers.

Allan drifted through his days, coming downstairs in the morning wearing yesterday’s dirty clothes, never closing cupboard doors or drawers, forgetting to zip his schoolbag as he headed out the door with his hair unbrushed. Every interaction was tinged with frustration, and I felt I was failing as a parent. None of the tricks that I’d learned parenting my two eldest sons worked. Almost immediately after Allan came into our family, it was clear to me something was very wrong.

Nine years ago, when my husband, Trevor, and I set out to adopt, we had two stipulations: The child must be able to live independently one day and must not have been exposed to alcohol prenatally. From what we’d heard in our adoption classes, alcohol exposure created a muddle of impossible behaviours, far beyond what we could handle.

In the end we didn’t end up adopting a child—we adopted four children. The siblings we fell in love with from the moment we were handed their profile were aged 3, 5, 7 and 9. In the kids’ profile photo they had optimistic smiles, and when we got to meet them in person, we discovered they had endearing personalities to match.

On visits, they loved spending time on our farm—running around gleefully in the barn and fields, gently hugging our cats and chickens and patiently feeding grass to our goats and ponies. I knew it would be an adjustment to go from a family of four to a family of eight, but aside from having to cook twice as much, I expected things would carry on the same in our home—just with double the life and love. I couldn’t wait.

People say: “If you adopt older children, rather than babies, you know what you’re getting.” Well it turns out we didn’t. The anticipated mess and noise of our four new kids was compounded by giant tantrums and all kinds of surprising behaviours. Each child added unique elements to the hurricane: one punched holes through walls, another ran away during thunderstorms, another screamed at an ear-piercing pitch for hours at a time.

Allan was the biggest puzzle. He raged over small things: One time I told him dinner was still a few minutes away, so he leaped toward a pot of water boiling on the stove and almost burned himself. A trip to Niagara Falls left him sitting on the curb feeling sick and sticking his fingers in his ears, to block out the chatter of the crowds. And even though his classmates had long since twigged about Santa, Allan still wrote him earnest letters.

Allan spoke as articulately as other boys his age, so we initially pitched our expectations for him far beyond what he could manage. It was hard not to compare him to my eldest sons, and as we grappled with more and more behaviours that we couldn’t understand, I began to worry that he didn’t want to mature or try at anything in life.

Night after night of homework battles made us push for psych-educational testing at the school. It took a year to materialize, but finally Allan was diagnosed with intellectual delays. While the Children’s Aid Society told us this likely stemmed from a turbulent ride through the foster-care system, we were convinced there was more to it. Every aspect of life was such a struggle. After I presented our social worker with a list of Allan’s deficits, she finally referred us to a doctor trained in diagnosing fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

Click here to read the rest of the article

How Alcohol Plays A Role In Gender-based Violence — And What Must Happen Now

During these 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence we examine at the role alcohol plays in instances of violence against women.

 09/12/2017 09:52 SAST

Retrieved from:

A crying woman sitting amidst the clutter of used tissues – Copyspace

How many times do you hear about alcohol playing a role in a Gender-Based Violence (GBV)? In our view, far too many times not to have a frank discussion about it.

We’ve recently witnessed gender-based violence incidents involving high profile individuals. Remember the incident involving former Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Mduduzi Manana, who was seen on video assaulting a woman with his entourage. The woman, we now know, is Mandisa Duma. She and her friend got into a confrontation with Manana and a group of his friends after he says she swore at him and called him ‘gay’. He clearly didn’t take kindly to that and responded by slapping her.

We then saw the Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula responding to the charges that were laid against Manana. For the first time since the incident, we first heard the Minister emphasise the influence of alcohol in that incident. “A group of men in a place of alcohol, joined to exchange masculine punches with a lady after legal hours of alcohol consumption,” said Mbalula.

Mbalula added: “The case of the deputy minister is very disappointing because we expect individuals like him to act as an ambassador, the law, however, must take its course… Manana will not be treated with special kid gloves.”

He wasn’t treated with kid gloves but he did only get a slap on the wrist when Magistrate Ramsamy Reddy sentenced Manana to either a year’s imprisonment or an R100,000 fine, along with 500 hours of community service.

So what are the facts around the role that alcohol plays in GBV?

People under the influence of alcohol tend to be more aggressive to partners

A World Health Organisation (WHO) study found that 65% of women in South Africa had experienced spousal abuse. It also showed that their partners always or sometimes used alcohol before the assault.

“Incidents of women being abused by their partners do happen. If one is under the influence of alcohol, they are prone to be more aggressive towards their partners. Because of alcohol, their reality at that time it ends up in them being physically and sometimes sexually abusive,” Said Anele Siswana, a clinical psychologist.

“One of the things that need to be done is psycho-education, particularly around educating men and young boys to be more sensitive towards women and girl children. Promoting education around ways in which we can teach our young boys well-rounded ways of behaving so that physical violence and other forms of abuse are not an alternative form of solving a problem,” Siswana explained.

Click here to read the rest of the article

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.

Free FASD Webinar – Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Register now for the December 13, 2017, Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT) Webcast

Image source:

Join us for this free 45 minute webcast entitled: Roles and Responsibilities of an Agent on a Personal Directive.

What does it mean to be named an agent in a personal directive? This webinar will explain:

  • The role of an agent named in a Personal Directive
  • The responsibility of an agent
  • When the agent’s authority begins
  • What service providers’ responsibilities are when working with an agent

Date: Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Time: 2:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. MST
Speaker: Melanie Blackwell
Register: Register Here
Format: PowerPoint Presentation with Q&A
Cost: FREE! Please share with your networks
Q&A: You can pose questions to the speaker through the live chat functionality

Melanie is a Capacity Assessment Policy Analyst with the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee.

The Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT) provides information, education and support to vulnerable Albertans and their families related to personal and financial matters.  The Public Guardian and Public Trustee have mandated roles under several pieces of legislation.  These roles include:

  • Acting as a legal guardian and/or trustee when an adult is unable to make decisions for him or herself
  • Functioning as a Review Officer on Court applications under the Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act
  • Administering estates when someone has died and there is no one else to do so
  • Protecting the assets of minors where required by law
  • Encouraging Albertans to plan ahead for a time when they may be unable to make their own decisions
  • Addressing concerns about legal decision makers (guardians, trustees, agents)

The OPGT Learning Series is intended for the general public and individuals who may be functioning as a substitute decision maker (acting as a guardian, trustee, agent, or attorney).  Service providers working in disability, health, and seniors sectors will also find the information relevant to their services and clientele.  Please share information about the OPGT Learning Series with your family, friends, and colleagues.

Women alcoholics on the rise in Delhi, and across India

States like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh have seen a rise in women drinkers. In some of these states, the proportion is higher than that of Delhi.

Retrieved from:


According to members of Shakti, the Delhi group has the highest number of women as compared to similar groups of other states.According to members of Shakti, the Delhi group has the highest number of women as compared to similar groups of other states.(File Photo)

When a sexagenarian wobbled up to the podium at the Frank Anthony Public School in Lajpat Nagar on Saturday, clad in a brown saree, a beige button-down cardigan and sporting a bindi, like every other Indian grandmother you meet in India, the words out of her mouth seemed misplaced.

“I am Rukmini*, and I am an alcoholic”.

Rukmini, who has been sober since May 1995, is one of the 30-35 women who are part of the all female Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) group, Shakti, in Delhi, and played a major role setting up the group.

According to members of Shakti, the Delhi group has the highest number of women as compared to similar groups of other states. This raises the question: have the number of women consuming alcohol in the national capital increased?

Female drinkers in Delhi

According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), in the decade between 2005-2006 and 2015-2016, the percentage of men and women who consumed alcohol in India and the percentage of the male population in Delhi who consumed alcohol has reduced. However, the percentage of women in Delhi who consumed alcohol has gone up from 0.4% of the female population in 2005-2006, to 0.7% in 2015-2016.

Other states like Chandigarh, Goa, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh have also seen a rise in women drinkers, and in some of these states the proportion is higher than that of Delhi.

So what brings out more women in Delhi to seek help? Is it because it is easier to get it in Delhi than in other states? And are these women from all walks of life?

Has the consumption of alcohol increased?
States like Manipur, Goa and Kerala have seen a rise in women drinke rs. In some, proportion is higher than Delhi.
  • Have you had trouble quitting drinking, even though you have planned to do so?
  • Have people around you raised concerns about your drinking habits?
  • Do you drink re gularly, on an almost daily basis?
  • Do you start your day with a drink, or start shaking if you don’t?
  • Have you developed a tolerance for liquor, and find yourself needing more alcohol to get drunk?
  • Has your drinking gotten you into trouble? Either with the law, at work, your friends, your relationships, or family?
  • Have you found yourself drinking more than you had initially planned to, because you find it hard to stop once you have started?
  • Have you skipped work or school because of drinking?
  • Do you drink until you blackout?
  • Have you felt the need to quit drinking, because you feel that your life would be better?
If you have answered yes to more questions here than you feel comfortable with, it might be time to reflect on whetheryou have a problem or not.
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.


Innovations Conference: Conference on Developmental Disabilities, Intellectual Disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder

Screen Shot 2017-12-10 at 5.35.53 PM

Welcome to Alberta’s first Innovations in Practice conference!

As a health professional, a family member or a community based service provider supporting individuals with a dual diagnosis (developmental disability and a mental health concern), come join Edmonton’s specialty developmental psychiatrists and the Complex Needs Initiative community support team members at this exciting conference which will:

  • Present best practices in serving individuals with a dual diagnosis involved in multiple systems such as mental health, specialty healthcare, human services, and community based services
  • Continue to advance the Alberta cross-ministry Complex Needs Initiative with improved partnerships, continued development and progression of relevant education
  • Build momentum in Alberta for the joint delivery of healthcare and service systems
  • Make lives better across our province for individuals with developmental disabilities with the use of innovative and useful practices

Sharing successes and bringing together other jurisdictions doing similar work is what you will find at this two-day conference. Innovations in Practice…more than a catchy title! Join us to find out what is informing practices across Alberta but also learn how other jurisdictions are finding success.

Participants may include • allied health professionals, • mental health clinicians, • psychiatrists, physicians, • disability service providers, • front-line staff members, • community care providers, • students of any discipline, • families and other supports, • educators / teachers.

Click to download conference poster: Innovations Conference poster_v7

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