Category Archives: FASD Resources and Information

60 Life Skills to Teach Your Child with Special Needs

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What life skills are you teaching your child and how are you making it successful?

When my son turned 9 years old I came to a startling wake-up call.  I realized that because he has autism, sensory processing disorder, and global delays we would need to really focus on life skills or he would continue to fall further and further behind.  These skills, which are taught more loosely to his developmentally-typical peers … the same skills that some kids just observe and soak in naturally in their environment … these would need to be taught explicitly to my oldest son for him to learn them and to accept them as part of his routine.  For those of you who don’t know, A is almost 13 years old and this is a list of life skills that he has accomplished in the last few years.  Many of these are still on his “practice” list and others he has down pat – but I’m sharing this with you today just in case you are in a place where I was just a few years ago.  You need to start somewhere – so whatever stage your child is in, I’m hoping this list will give you a launching off point to help you narrow down just a few skills they could be learning right now.  The key is to be intentional in whatever you teach.  


Life Skills

  1. Potty train
  2. Wash hands
  3. Brush hair
  4. Pick out clothes
  5. Dress self
  6. Button clothes
  7. Shower self
  8. Brush teeth
  9. Wash face
  10. Choose healthy food/snacks
  11. Prepare snacks for self
  12. Prepare lunch for self
  13. Prepare breakfast for self
  14. Prepare food for others and self
  15. Heat up food in microwave
  16. Put food away in proper place
  17. Clean off table after meal
  18. Put dishes in sink
  19. Load dishwasher
  20. Unload dishwasher
  21. Put on shoes
  22. Tie shoes
  23. Take trash out of their bathroom
  24. Wipe down bathroom sink
  25. Wipe down toilet
  26. Wipe down mirror
  27. Clean up toys and put in toy bin
  28. Put away pencils and notebooks after school
  29. Ride a bike
  30. Bike and Scooter Safety (Where Helmet)
  31. Take a walk – learn street safety
  32. Mail a letter
  33. Retrieve mail out of mailbox
  34. Vacuum
  35. Sweep
  36. Spray mop
  37. Dry mop
  38. Answer the phone
  39. Dial the phone
  40. Memorize phone number
  41. Memorize address
  42. Learn how to count money
  43. Purchase items at a store
  44. Shop for groceries
  45. Order food at restaurant
  46. Use a computer
  47. Type an e-mail
  48. Use a TV (remote)
  49. Pour liquid into a glass
  50. Learning to read an indoor/outdoor thermometer
  51. Dressing appropriately to the temperature
  52. Water Safety
  53. Learn to swim
  54. Make Bed
  55. Change Sheets
  56. Learn to Use Washer & Dryer
  57. Dust furniture
  58. Wipe Walls & Railings in Home
  59. Read Street Signs
  60. Read a Map

To begin just pick one of the skills.  Work on this skill for the next 10 days or 2 weeks.  If the life skill is especially difficult for your child you might choose to break it down into smaller steps and work on these until your child masters it.  The goal is to get these to eventually become incorporated into their typical day to day routine.  


FASD and Mental Health

f28df-1445359631870FASD and mental health are intrinsically linked. Take a peek at some of CanFASD‘s research on the relationship between FASD and mental health.

Resources & Publications

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD): A beginner’s guide for mental health professionals — FASD can feature a diverse range of impairments in cognitive, social, and adaptive functioning. These impairments are often accompanied by co-occurring mental illness, behavioral disorders, substance use, traumatic brain injuries, and developmental disabilities. The presence of these co-occurring conditions creates significant challenges for mental health professionals in terms of screening, assessment, differential diagnosis, and treatment. The key to maximizing the effectiveness of care for clients requires treating each individual’s unique risks and needs in an integrated service delivery framework. Unfortunately, there is typically a lack of expertise in FASD among mental health professionals, which can only be resolved by the increased availability of advanced education and training programs on FASD. To increase awareness of these needs and FASD in general, this article provides general information on the definition and symptoms of FASD, the screening and assessment of FASD, adaptive functioning and memory-related considerations of FASD, and the treatment of FASD.

Toward Quality Mental Health Services in Canada: A Comparison of Performance Indicators Across 5 Provinces — In 2015, the Graham Boeckh Foundation (GBF), in collaboration with the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH), initiated a project to test the feasibility of creating and reporting on a small number of mental health and addictions services performance indicators that could be compared across provinces. A team of mental health and addictions scientists from ve provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Québec) developed and generated the measures, where possible for ages 10 years and up, using data already available from the healthcare systems. This is the Summary Report. A full Technical Report is available at

Caregiver Needs and Stress in Caring for Individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: Lay Summary

FASD, Stress and Mental Health

Addiction and Mental Health Care: Resources to Support Collaboration — The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA), the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Canadian Executive Council on Addictions have collected a list of examples and resources to support collaboration between addictions and mental health systems and service delivery in Canada.

Take Care — FASD: Learning with Hope

A great Monday morning reminder!

A dad’s medical scare is a harsh reminder to look after himself so he can look after his family, including his son with #FASD. His wife adds thoughts about the need for carers to look after each other too.

via Take Care — FASD: Learning with Hope

Alcohol and Pregnancy Survey

Service providers are ideally suited to screen pregnant women for alcohol use during pregnancy, as they are the point of contact with the healthcare system for these women.

It is imperative that they have appropriate training and skills to feel comfortable and competent working with pregnant women in a culturally safe and sensitive manner. As well, they must have the knowledge needed to assist and connect individuals and families with existing resources and services.

Survey(1)Image Source:


The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada is leading a large National study and wants to work with

service providers in social services such as:

  • Education
  • Justice
  • Public health
  • Nursing
  • Midwifery
  • Substance abuse
  • Mental health
  • Child welfare
  • Women’s shelters
  • Homelessness workers
  • Adult literacy, etc)

to determine the knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of service providers with respect to alcohol use during pregnancy. The results of this survey will be used to inform the direction and content for training and education material for service providers related to screening and counselling for alcohol use during pregnancy.

The results will be anonymous and we need to have as many respondents as possible to make the data meaningful.  Participants will be entered into a draw for an iPad.

Please share widely with your contacts

Recruitment Email and Consent Form

Recruitment Email and Consent Form_FR


Thank you for your collaboration. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need additional information.

MOFAS: Keeping Routines for Children with an FASD


keeping routines for children with an FASD

Having a routine for children with a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) can help reduce stress and anxiety. Children with an FASD have permanent brain injuries that can impact communication, understanding, responses to stress, and more. It can help your child overcome these brain injury symptoms, and stay calm more easily, to know what to expect, where they are going, and who they’ll be with.

Here are some tips for keeping a routine for your child with an FASD:


Plan out your day

Planning out your child’s day, to the extent you can, can help alleviate stress. Children with an FASD might have fears of the unknown. It can be helpful to talk about daily activities and what your child can expect. When kids know what is to come, they often have an easier time with transitions. Check the MOFAS Pinterest page for ideas on how to make your own charts and calendars. You can also try to plan ahead to address things you know might cause anxiety for a child. For example, if you’re headed somewhere where you expect a crowd, and you know your child gets anxious in that situation, you and your child can plan what they can use as fidgets, safe spaces, and breathing techniques that will help them stay calm.


Use alarms and timers to help keep track of time

Children with an FASD can have a hard time knowing the difference between one minute, five minutes, or 30 minutes. To help your child manage time, you can use visual timers, markings on the face of an analog clock, auditory timers, and alarms. Setting times for brushing teeth, taking a shower, or even getting ready for school can help your child stay on track. Create a sense of time with the help from FAS Link.


Give clear instructions

If you ask a child without an FASD to do their homework, they’ll understand what that means. But a child with an FASD may need to have all those steps broken down. “Do your homework” could be described in steps using the “first – then” approach like this:

To do your homework:

  • First, find your backpack.
  • Then, take out your homework assignment.

Next, do your assignment:

  • First, grab your pencil.
  • Then, write your assignment.

Lastly, you’ll need to put everything away:

  • First, put the homework and pencil back in your backpack.
  • Then, put your backpack by the door for the morning.

Kids with an FASD need to have a clear understanding of all the steps. For additional ideas on how to help a child with an FASD handle routines, check out The Autism Helper.



Days fluctuate. Schedules won’t always be perfect, and there will be meltdowns and other setbacks. That’s okay. If you can, allow time for improvising, taking things a little slower, and rebounding. And if you notice a certain routine isn’t working, you may want to try making some changes. Things won’t work every time, what works for some may not work for others, and what works one day may not work another day. Trust your instinct on what your child needs. And as hard as it is, taking care of yourself as much as you can help you stay flexible and creative when things aren’t going as planned.

Retrieved from:

Self Care Isn’t Enough When You Parent Complex Kids

Mani-pedis won’t fill the void entirely.


By: Alethea Mshar, Contributor

I’m getting a mani-pedi today. If there’s a poster for self-care a mani-pedi would be on it. It’s relaxing, makes you look better, and it’s a couple hours away from the grind. The bonus is that I have a couple of gift cards to offset the cost so it’s not even a ding on the budget.

As spring arrives I will take pleasure in my beautified bare toes and most certainly ruin my mani by the end of the day, but that’s not the point. The point is the break, the focus on myself. A much needed boost to my spirit.

But is it ever enough?

I believe in self-care, truly I do, but (you know what they say about “but,” ignore everything before it) it’s like offering a candy bar to someone suffering from malnourishment. It will taste great and give a momentary pause to the pangs that rumble nonstop, but it will do nothing to correct the underlying void. A malnourished person needs not a treat, not a single meal, but access to long-term sustenance.

And the full-time parent of complex kids doesn’t need a mani-pedi. It’s a candy bar that will only quiet the pangs momentarily.

What is needed, truly needed, by parents, especially the primary parent of complex kids, is much wider and deeper than a few hours of self care can begin to address. When you consider that moms of autistic kids have stress levels akin to that of combat soldiers it becomes apparent that a brief outing isn’t even beginning to address the issue. It’s a bandage on a hemorrhage.

What is necessary is wraparound services. Respite, extended school years and more.

We recently found out that Ben was approved for the Children’s Waiver Program. This program will provide for him all the benefits of Medicaid, despite our income being over the threshold, as well as respite, Community Living Services (someone to help Ben learn how to do things that most people take for granted, like tolerate an outing to the grocery store.) When getting the news of approval I felt like a someone took me by the hand, showed me a farm with a garden full of bounty and a barn full of animals that, if well cared for could nourish our whole family indefinitely.I’ve been told that the church or private charities should step in. Idealistically I agree wholeheartedly, but I have yet to find a church or charity that is equipped and capable of stepping into the enormous gaps that families like ours have year after year.

I’ve been told that the church or private charities should step in. Idealistically I agree wholeheartedly, but I have yet to find a church or charity that is equipped and capable of stepping into the enormous gaps that families like ours have year after year.

It takes interventions like the Children’s Waiver Program to make a difference in the lives of families like ours, there’s really no substitute.

I’ll go get my mani-pedi today, and it will be a treat, but it won’t satisfy. It won’t fill the void and I’ve learned not to expect it to be enough. I’m beyond grateful to anticipate finally having the resources we need, but at the same time, I look at so many other families I know, moms who live as combat soldiers who need it just as much as we do.

We need to do better, and provide these families with services they need to thrive.

Retrieved from:

FASD Research Project

CanFASD’s Strategic Lead for Justice Interventions Michelle Stewart, and her research team have created an FASD resource page for front line workers and researchers with information about programs/projects across Canada.


This research project is lead by Dr. Michelle Stewart at the University of Regina. Working with her team of students, Dr. Stewart has a multi-level research project in three key areas:

  • FASD & Social Justice: This multi-year, multi-stage project includes a cross-Canada research trip for interviews with families & workers focused on programs and practices to assist those with  FASD across the lifespan. Data collection is ongoing.
  • FASD & the Lived Experience: This project includes collaborations in BC and Saskatchewan that focus on the lived experiences of people with FASD with attention to the need for life-long supports and experiences of receiving diagnosis. Contact us for infographics available free of charge. Data collection is ongoing.
  • Strengths-Based Workshops:  This pilot project uses strengths-based approach to understanding FASD. The project uses improvisation to explored key issues facing people who have FASD. Preliminary findings will be released in Fall 2016 (including tools such as sleep aids). Contact us for a copy of research infographic.

Visit the following link for more information:


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