Category Archives: Resources for Caregivers

Coaching Families Caregiver Support Group – February 13, 2018

Attention Parents/Caregivers of children and adults with FASD

Image source:  http://www.okclipart.com

Would you like to meet other parents and caregiver like you?  Well, this is your chance! You do not have to be a client of this program in order to attend this support group. It also doesn’t matter if your child is over the age of 18!

Here is what you can expect, meeting parents/caregivers like you and collectively problems solve, share successes and generate ideas.

Do you have little ones at home and can’t find a babysitter? No problem! There will be a limited child programming for those who can not find a babysitter.  Please let Roxanna know how many children you intend to bring so they are able to provide the best possible experience for you and your children.

Click here to download the poster

Kindly RSVP by February 09, 2018 to  Mirand Zetsen

Call:  (780) 785-7640 OR Email: Miranda.zetsen@cssalberta.ca

 

Father Christmas (Santa) Finds It Hard

Many kiddos with FASD experience anxiety during this time of the year. Why do they, you may ask. Well, it’s winter break for many, and that means school’s routine is out of the window; Christmas is around the corner, and some wonder if they had been bad due to their meltdowns and ended on Santa’s bad list.

Here’s is a piece by MB_FASD on this subject, read on

Retrieved from: https://fasdlearningwithhope.wordpress.com/2017/12/18/dadatchristmas/

Blog Father Christmas loves a teen with FASD

By MB_FASD
It’s hard being a Dad to a son with FASD at this time of year. You want him to be happy, but the run up to Christmas is stressful for him, and that makes it hard for us. How do you keep him going when the routine at at school is swept away, making him nervous every morning when he wakes up? How can I reassure him that his meltdowns, bad language and FASD-provoked behaviours don’t mean he’s on Father Christmas’ naughty list, with no chance of redemption., a constant fear he raises? I worry that his fears lead to a cycle of worsening anxiety and deteriorating behaviour. I have to do what I can to help reinforce the positive, help build up his confidence and self-esteem. But, oh my, the weeks before Christmas are not a good time.

This year, a whole number of new factors have been thrown into our volatile mix.

Back in late October our son had an operation on his right hand. He’s still recuperating from that. He can’t do gymnastics, or play in soft play areas, or go trampolining, or even go to a playground. He can’t do anything that risks putting pressure on the hand, or injuring it during this recovery period. These are his big physical outlets, things he does all the time. It makes life much harder when he can’t release his pent-up energy. He’s even too worried to go to swimming, I offered to take him last weekend and he wouldn’t go as “the Doctor has to say it’s ok”. He needs these activities to help him regulate his emotions and behaviour. I haven’t cracked this one. I hope as the hand heals his worries will pass and I’ll be able to get him in the pool again, most likely with one of his good friends who also swims like a dolphin.

Another thing we have had to be very engaged with is his school play. This isn’t an average school performance, his school has a performing arts speciality. The quality of their productions is fantastic. Everything is on a professional footing. His first one, last Spring, was a triumph for him and the school. He loved it. This time has been harder. He learned his lines, but wasn’t able to come out of himself to show what he could do in rehearsal. I read through lines with him a couple of times, but it didn’t help. He’s been reserved, silent, not responding properly to prompts. His anxiety is compounded by his voice changing as he goes through puberty. He’s finding it hard to hit the high notes. His voice sometimes cracks, and he hates that. He has perfect pitch, and is hyper-self-critical of anything that he perceives as less than his best. He hears imperfections we don’t hear. His self-confidence takes a hit when he thinks things aren’t right.

 

Click here for the rest of the article

Coaching Families Caregiver Support Group – January 09, 2018

Attention Parents/Caregivers of children and adults with FASD

Would you like to meet other parents and caregiver like you?  Well, this is your chance! You do not have to be a client of this program in order to attend this support group. It also doesn’t matter if your child is over the age of 18!

Here is what you can expect, meeting parents/caregivers like you and collectively problems solve, share successes and generate ideas.

Do you have little ones at home and can’t find a babysitter? No problem! There will be a limited child programming for those who can not find a babysitter.  Please let Roxanna know how many children you intend to bring so they are able to provide the best possible experience for you and your children.

Kindly RSVP by January 03, 2018 to Roxanna Clermont by:

Phone: 780-721-2236 OR Email: Roxanna.Clermont@cssalberta.ca

January Support Group

Click poster to download the pdf

Alberta Family Wellness Initiative: Resilience

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RESILIENCE

Why do some of us bounce back from adversity better than others?

TIPPING THE BALANCE TOWARD GOOD HEALTH

To promote a good standard of health and help prevent mental health and addiction problems in our communities, we need to support all individuals in building the foundations of resilience—the skills and abilities that develop through experience and allow us to adapt and stay healthy even in circumstances of severe stress or hardship.

The resilience scale is a metaphor to explain why some people seem more resilient than others and to help visualize how to improve resilience: the ability to respond positively in the face of adversity.

LOADING THE SCALE

Think of a scale where a person’s good and bad experiences get stacked over the course of development. The positive experiences that get stacked on one end are called protective factors and include things like attentive caregivers and available social supports that provide things like good prenatal health, nutrition, health care, and a childhood rich in Serve and Return interactions. The other end of the scale gets loaded up with bad experiences—what scientists call risk factors. These are experiences that cause Toxic Stress and tip the scale in a negative direction. Toxic stress occurs when no caring adults are present to buffer the effects of experiences such as abuse, neglect, or parental addiction. RSA-1

 

A person’s resilience scale is a good predictor of health outcomes, and what gets placed on the scale in early childhood is especially important. When the scale, weighed down by positive experiences, tips in a positive direction, a person is more likely to experience good health, academic success, strong relationships, and economic security. A person with a scale weighed down by experiences that cause toxic stress will have increased risk for stress-related diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, depression, and addiction. Many of these outcomes surface in adolescence or adulthood, long after the resilience scale was loaded by experiences in early childhood.

SETTING THE FULCRUM

Most of us know of people who seem to thrive in spite of difficult childhoods, or those who struggle in life even though good caregivers and strong communities loaded their scales with predominantly positive experiences.

Experiences alone are only half of the story; genes also play a role. A person’s genetic inheritance is like the starting position of the fulcrum, or the balance point, of the scale: some of us are born highly sensitive to the effects of toxic stress, while others can withstand significant amounts of stress without experiencing lasting harm to brain architecture. On the scale, we see that the position of the fulcrum affects how much leverage positive or negative experiences have in shaping our life outcomes.

 RSA-3

HOW DO WE BUILD RESILIENCE?

Research into epigenetics has revealed that, remarkably, the position of the fulcrum is not set in stone. Experiences at critical stages of development modify how our genes are expressed. Over time, supportive relationships and serve-and-return experiences can shift the fulcrum in a more resilient direction, strengthening brain architecture so that a person is better prepared to bounce back from significant life stresses.

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Because life events aren’t always in our control, it’s important to help all children build the foundations of resilience so that they can better meet the challenges they may face during development and later in life. For older children, adolescents, and adults, it is never too late to build resilience; though the required effort increases with age, we can always improve skills that enable better outcomes.

For more information please visit the Alberta Family Wellness Initiative at: http://www.albertafamilywellness.org/what-we-know/resilience-scale

Enjoying Halloween With Sensory Challenges

With Halloween fast approaching you may have to think about how you and your family can enjoy the spooky day with sensory challenges in the mix. Take a peek at a few tips!

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Click to download tip sheet: Enjoying Halloween with sensory challenges (1)

How We’re Navigating Summer Break With Kids Who Thrive On Structure.

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Ah summer! We’re talking flip flops, sunglasses, bike rides, hanging by the pool, staying up late, catching fire flies, and then sleeping until we wake up the next morning. Nothing better, right? But when you’re parenting kiddos with special needs, who thrive in a structured, routine-driven environment, summer can spell disaster.

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I get it. I’m the parent of eight children, three of whom have major special needs that range from sensory processing needs to hyper-activity and extreme anxiety. Three of my children have been diagnosed with alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder, which falls under the umbrella of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

They thrive in structure…all the time. Because drug and alcohol exposure in-utero caused damage to the pre-frontal cortex of their brain (where executive functioning skills like reasoning, logic, impulsivity control, and social awareness exist) they are often incapable of lax schedules, easy-going days, or little to no routine. If you’re in this trench currently, you understand this full-well. And, your summers are anything but easy-going. In fact, much like us, you’re on-duty constantly, sometimes throughout the night.

This is our normal. This is what we are signed up for. But for many, it’s taking the life out of them, especially if they are fairly new to this journey, or parenting children from traumatic places. We know exactly what you’re walking through right now. We’ve been there and are still there in many regards. Even though we are a few years down the road in terms of parenting children from trauma, we still have to figure this out every single spring, before summer begins.

Here’s how we’re navigating summer break with our kiddos who need structure:

  1. Create a routine. During the school year, we live and die by routine — even our weekends are structured around this. But what about summertime? It’s tough because you want to let things go, not have a set bed time, not have a set wake-up time, or midday schedule. But at what cost? I know it feels restrictive to keep your routine in place during the summer, but it’s much worse to live in chaos.
  2. Set expectations ahead of time. Right before summer starts, we explain the expectations for summer break to our kids. We go through chores and incentives for completing said chores. We also share the schedule and structure we are creating for them (and us). We explain why we are doing this and remain crystal clear on how this will help us have the best possible summer break together. This will look different, and certainly sound different in your home, but the sooner you can do this, the better. It’s not too late, so start now!
  3. Be intentional with downtime. This is as simple as gathering your kids around for a movie, board game, or even going on a family bike ride. Realistically speaking, when you are raising children with special needs, there is really no such thing as downtime. However, “unscheduled” time can be intentionally structured.
  4. Build in fun education. Where we live in Central Indiana, we have several park nature centers where our kids can have fun and also learn. It keeps their minds stimulated and gives them a focused activity. Zoos are great for this. Another avenue for fun education is through your kids’ school. We asked teachers before the school year ended to provide summer reading schedules and incentives. It’s a win for our school as much as it is for us.
  5. Publicize the daily schedule. In conjunction with your routine, you need to create a visible daily schedule. One of our sons is on the autism spectrum and continually asks, “What’s next?” We decided to create and publicize the schedule for him to see and it helps. When his brain is telling him to ask and ask, he’s able to visit our kitchen’s bulletin board and read exactly what we are doing next. While we don’t really mind the repeat questions, the visible schedule reassures him and gives him security.
  6. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Our good friend, Dr. Ira Chasnoff from NTI Upstream has a great perspective for helping kiddos like ours navigate through their days. He says, “Whatever you do one day, repeat the next. The key is to repeat, repeat, repeat.” No matter what, repeat, repeat, repeat. The only way to build up consistency with your kiddos and your routine is repeating the same thing every single day.

Our new normal functions differently than families with children without special needs. When I accept what is, I’m able to not only see the beauty right in front of me, I have the chance to create memories with the beautiful children I’m blessed to call mine.

Here’s to summer — and your peace of mind!

Check out more posts by Mike & Kristin Berry that offer hope for families in the trenches at: http://confessionsofanadoptiveparent.com/ourstory/

Retrieved from: http://confessionsofanadoptiveparent.com/how-were-navigating-summer-break-with-kids-who-thrive-on-structure/

How thinking about behavior differently can lead to happier FASD families

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A new study from the University of Rochester sheds light on how parents and caregivers of children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) can best help their kids, and at the same time, maintain peace at home and at school.

“Children with FASD often have significant behavior problems due to neurological damage,” says Christie Petrenko, a research psychologist at the University’s Mt. Hope Family Center.

Petrenko and her colleagues found that parents of children with FASD who attribute their child’s misbehavior to their underlying disabilities–rather than to willful disobedience–tend to use pre-emptive strategies designed to help prevent undesirable behaviors. These strategies are likely to be more effective than incentive-based strategies, such as the use of consequences for misbehavior, given the brain damage associated with FASD.

The study included 31 parents and caregivers of children with FASD ages four through eight. Petrenko and her team analyzed data from standardized questionnaires and qualitative interviews that focused on parenting practices.

Petrenko says that the study, which is published in Research in Developmental Disabilities, shows that educating families and caregivers about the disorder is critical.

People with FASD often have problems with executive functioning, which includes skills such as impulse control and task planning, information processing, emotion regulation, and social and adaptive skills. As a result, they are at high risk for school disruptions and trouble with the law.

Parents who use pre-emptive strategies “change the environment in a way that fits their child’s needs better,” says Petrenko. “They give one-step instructions rather than three-steps because their child has working memory issues. They may buy clothes with soft seams if their child has sensory issues, or post stop signs to cue the child to not open the door. All of these preventive strategies help reduce the demands of the environment on the child.”

The study also shows that parenting practices correlate with levels of caregiver confidence and frustration. Families of children with FASD are frequently judged and blamed for their children’s misbehavior. Parents and caregivers who are successful in preventing unwanted behaviors have higher confidence in their parenting and lower levels of frustration with their children than parents who counter unwanted behaviors with consequences after the fact.

Petrenko says that evidence-based interventions for families raising children with FASD have been developed and show promise for improving outcomes for children and families. She and her team at Mt. Hope Family Center are continuing to further test these interventions and identify what strategies and approaches are most effective in getting evidence-based information to families.

UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER

Retrieved from: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-11/uor-hta111816.php

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