Category Archives: Resources for Parents

Executive Function & Self-Regulation

Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. Just as an air traffic control system at a busy airport safely manages the arrivals and departures of many aircraft on multiple runways, the brain needs this skill set to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and control impulses.

When children have opportunities to develop executive function and self-regulation skills, individuals and society experience lifelong benefits. These skills are crucial for learning and development. They also enable positive behavior and allow us to make healthy choices for ourselves and our families.

Executive function and self-regulation skills depend on three types of brain function: working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control. These functions are highly interrelated, and the successful application of executive function skills requires them to operate in coordination with each other.

  • Working memory governs our ability to retain and manipulate distinct pieces of information over short periods of time.
  • Mental flexibility helps us to sustain or shift attention in response to different demands or to apply different rules in different settings.
  • Self-control enables us to set priorities and resist impulsive actions or responses.

Children aren’t born with these skills—they are born with the potential to develop them. If children do not get what they need from their relationships with adults and the conditions in their environments—or (worse) if those influences are sources of toxic stress—their skill development can be seriously delayed or impaired. Adverse environments resulting from neglect, abuse, and/or violence may expose children to toxic stress, which disrupts brain architecture and impairs the development of executive function.


Providing the support that children need to build these skills at home, in early care and education programs, and in other settings they experience regularly is one of society’s most important responsibilities. Growth-promoting environments provide children with “scaffolding” that helps them practice necessary skills before they must perform them alone. Adults can facilitate the development of a child’s executive function skills by establishing routines, modeling social behavior, and creating and maintaining supportive, reliable relationships. It is also important for children to exercise their developing skills through activities that foster creative play and social connection, teach them how to cope with stress, involve vigorous exercise, and over time, provide opportunities for directing their own actions with decreasing adult supervision.

The Center on the Developing Child’s R&D (research and development) platform, Frontiers of Innovation (FOI), supports scientific research that can inform the testing, implementation, and refinement of strategies designed to achieve significantly better life outcomes for children facing adversity.

For more information please click https://developingchild.harvard.edu/about/what-we-do/#building-an-r-and-d-platform

Retrieved from https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/executive-function/

Tuesday’s Tips: FASD Strategies

tuesdays tips 2

Are you a caregiver or professional who, in your everyday life is raising, teaching, guiding, and loving children and youth with FASD? If so, here are a few tips and reminders that we can all bring to our support networks and communities!

  1. Children and youth with FASD do learn, but they all learn differently. Every child with FASD is different and has their own unique strengths.
  2. Children and youth with FASD need to know and feel that it’s okay to talk about their FASD. Keep the communication open and encourage your child to be open with others.
  3. Alcohol exposure in utero can affect every system in the body, so it is important to keep a watchful eye for any sign of health problems.
  4. You know your child best and therefore are your child’s best advocate. Talk with your child’s teachers and other professionals; find out if they are FASD-friendly and share resources and information.
  5. Play is an important function for all children, especially those with FASD. Encourage playfulness in your child and include play into your child’s day.
  6. When teaching new skills, remember that learning is more fun if the teaching can be made into a game!

Do you have a great tip, fact, or strategy? Share it with us!

Exploring socially-responsive approaches to children’s rehabilitation with Indigenous communities, families and children

2016_NCCAH_Side_EN_RGB_SMIndigenous children are often denied timely access to critical healthcare and social services that are available to other Canadian children. This is primarily due to chronic underfunding and jurisdictional disputes and confusion over the funding of services. To ensure that Indigenous children have equitable opportunities, developmental and health trajectories, and quality of life and well-being across their life course as non-Indigenous children do, a critical examination of Indigenous children’s rehabilitation is needed.

This paper, authored by Alison Gerlach, PhD, summarizes knowledge about rehabilitation for Indigenous children with developmental challenges, disabilities, and complex health conditions. It explores the relevancy of the concepts of ‘disability’ and ‘rehabilitation’ within the settler-colonial context of Canada, highlights emerging themes in the literature on rehabilitation with Indigenous children in Canada, and identifies current gaps in knowledge and areas for future research. The paper argues that in order for children’s rehabilitation to be responsive to the lived realities of Indigenous communities and families, service delivery models, policies and practices must be informed by an understanding of dis/ability in relation to the multifaceted, historical, and ongoing effects of colonization. This requires a radical shift in service delivery grounded in Indigenous self-determination and human rights.

Click to download full report RPT-Child-Rehab-Gerlach-EN-Web

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CAREGIVER CURRICULUM ON FASD

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An updated Caregiver Curriculum on FASD was launched in June 2016. Now available are new, interactive modules which you can view right from your browser.

The purpose of this curriculum is to provide a venue for caregivers including foster parents, families, kinship care, youth and child care workers, child welfare services, and others trying to understand and cope with many of the life challenges faced by children with FASD.

Please click to access the training http://www.fasdchildwelfare.ca/learning/caregivers 

Resource: Play & Learn

Research shows that parents and caregivers have an important role in supporting early child development and this can happen through play! Play&Learn provides a variety of expert-reviewed activities that support a child’s growth. Activities focus on practicing skills in one of four developmental domains: Thinking & Learning, Social & Emotional, Movement and Language.

The collection of activities has been chosen to be beneficial for one of three age groups: toddlers (1.5 to 2.5 years); preschoolers (over 2.5 years to 4 years); and kindergarteners (over 4 years to 6 years). Most Play&Learn activities can be completed in less than 15 minutes and require little equipment to get started. Suggestions are provided to make the activities easier or more challenging depending on your child’s unique capabilities.

Developed by experts at McMaster University, Play&Learn makes playtime fun for everyone. Learn more at https://playandlearn.healthhq.ca/

Sample activity:

kindergarten-directionsDirections (Understands)

Up or Down, Under or Over – Let’s learn basic spatial relationships!

Setup: 0-5 minutes

Time required: 5-10 minutes

Materials: Cars and blocks or other toys.

How to Play: Name and demonstrate different directions (forward, back, up, down) and spatial relationships (under and over, in front and behind, etc.) using your child’s toys. Ask your child to tell you how to build a tower by using directions. You can also play with toys or cards asking your child to direct where they go.

Some Tips: Take turns with your child and give them directions!

Make it Easier: You start by building and describing what you are doing. “I will put this block in front of the other one.” Then ask them to help direct. “I want to make the tower taller, where should I put my next block?”

Make it Harder: Before building the tower, ask them what type of tower they want to build (e.g., tall, wide) and then plan the structure (a tall tower will need many blocks on top of each other).

 

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 Miranda 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

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