Tag Archives: FASD

CanFASD: Back to School #2 and #3

Back to School #2: FASD In Educational Settings. Part 1 – Simon Laplante


Simon Laplante is the Co-Chair of the CanFASD Family Advisory Committee and the adoptive father of a courageous young woman who struggles daily with ARND. He has a master’s degree in education and did his thesis on the impact of children with FASD on parents’ relationships with the school, community, and each other.

Simon has been working in the Manitoba public school system for 30 years as a teacher, vice-principal, principal, and assistant superintendent. He is presently a professor at the Université de St-Boniface in the Faculty of Education. Simon’s areas of interest are educational leadership, second language learning, Aboriginal education, and FASD. Fully bilingual, Simon has been involved in public speaking engagements on FASD for the last 10 years in educational settings and provincial conferences.

Simon can be reached at slaplante@shaw.ca.

Let’s be honest! Some educators know very little about FASD.  Many caregivers will testify to this lack of FASD awareness among teachers and educational leaders in general. It is not that people don’t care – they do! But caring and knowing how to work with students who have FASD are a world apart!

Students with FASD tend to do better in elementary school settings and struggle in secondary school settings. In fact, some high school students with FASD may not graduate. Some of the fundamental differences between elementary and secondary school are relationship and consistency. While in elementary school, a student with FASD will spend most of their day with the same teacher, forging trust and predictability. In secondary settings, going from one teacher to the other every hour or so, and having to adjust to different teaching styles and expectations, can be overwhelming for these students.

High schools need to really re-think their approaches when educating students with FASD to build stronger relationships and support educational success!

Simon Laplante
Educator and FAC member

Back to School #3: FASD in Educational Settings. Part 2 – Dorothy Reid


Dorothy Reid is the Co-Chair of the CanFASD Family Advisory Committee. She is also the owner of Reid Wellness Consulting, providing consultation and training to individuals and organizations on maintaining wellness. Dorothy previously worked with the Correctional System primarily in the area of mental health service development and delivery. She has extensive professional experience in working with individuals with FASD and other mental health concerns, and she has developed interventions for offenders with cognitive deficits. After obtaining a diagnosis of FASD for their two sons, Dorothy and her husband have been involved in the development of support groups for parent and caregivers of children with disabilities.

Dorothy can be reached at reidwellness@gmail.com.

In our last post on FASD and education, Simon Laplante hit the nail on the head when he discussed the difficulties transitioning from elementary to high school for many students with FASD.

In my experience with two sons, there was a world of difference in their educational experience.  My oldest son was not diagnosed until he was 10 years old.  Between grade 5 and grade 8, he was in three different schools as both we and the school administrators tried to find a program that could address his needs.  His IQ was in the average range but he had ADHD and had experienced a lot of early childhood disruptions.  When he hit high school, the demand for independence exceeded his capacity to self-regulate.  He received no special supports and ended his high school experience after grade 9.

My youngest son was diagnosed at 4 years old.  He worked with a speech and language therapist prior to school.  He had an awesome kindergarten teacher who actually switched classes to be able to keep him in her class for the first three years of school.  The school principals knew him.  We had therapists and specialists who worked with the school to provide support to my son and his teachers.  At the point of transition to high school, his teacher and principal met with us to discuss options.  We all agreed that a specialized work skills/life skills program would be the most appropriate for him, so they worked hard to have him accepted in the program.  They were successful, and our high school experience with him was totally different.  He had the same teacher and teacher assistant for five years.  Even though his IQ was in the border line range (you know, low enough to need help but too high to qualify for it), he was able to gain academic skills as well as social and employment skills.

Simon was right on target when he said that the relationship between the student and the educator is key.   Knowledge, commitment, and options in education for students with FASD can make the difference between spectacular school failure and associated loss of self-worth, and the tremendous accomplishment of school success.

Dorothy Reid,
Family Advisory Committee
CanFASD Research Network



CanFASD: Back to School!

September usually means one thing: it’s time to go back to school! This transition can be particularly stressful for students with FASD, as well as their caregivers and teachers.

Throughout the month of September, we will be posting a Back to School Series, highlighting different issues related to education and FASD.

To kick off the series, we have summarized a recent issue paper below on education and FASD.

Throughout the rest of the month, we will release guest posts from professionals and caregivers with lived experiences, as well as information about alcohol use among post-secondary students.

Back to School #1: Educational Supports for Students with FASD

Students with FASD can benefit in both their school and personal lives with the help of educational supports and individualized education plans (IEPs). Despite educational supports being available in most school systems, current strategies are often outdated, not FASD-specific, and lack the accessible information teachers need to prepare ideal IEPs for students with FASD.

Some of the challenges for students with FASD, parents, and educators include:

  1. Ineffective functional assessments and psychoeducational reports
  • It can be extremely difficult for teachers to find value with the information provided in current functional assessments
  • Teachers claim functional assessments lack comprehensiveness, and focus mostly on the FASD diagnosis, only highlighting weaknesses of the student
  • Assessment reports are often long and filled with technical jargon
  1. Poor teacher education and training on FASD
  • Many teachers are not fully educated on, or do not have the proper resources on, FASD
  1. Disjointed communication between all parties
  • There can be disconnect in the collaboration between all parties involved with intervention for students with FASD
  • When collaboration is sparse, individual program planning becomes disjointed, and the complex needs of the student with FASD are difficult to meet

Evidence shows that positive learning outcomes are more likely with revised strategies and improved educational supports for students with FASD through all levels of diagnosis, assessment, and intervention planning.


  • Early diagnosis is essential to understand and meet the complex needs of individuals with FASD
  • Improving functional assessments is required to optimize IEPs, and psychologists should gather a more comprehensive overview of the student, individualizing the assessment, highlighting the strengths and skills of the student, and noting how to use and apply these strengths in the classroom
  • Teachers and other educational support staff should be provided with the proper resources, education, and up-to-date training on FASD to ensure that they are equipped to make sound decisions on the best learning styles and student programming
  • Parents and caregivers should have access to FASD educational resources to enhance their knowledge and understanding of the disorder, and to better serve the unique needs of their child at home
  • Stronger communication and collaboration between psychologists, teachers, educational aides, parents, and the community will lead to more effective IEPs, and better sharing of expertise among all parties

For more information on educational supports for students with FASD and current teaching strategies, please refer to the following resources:

Click here to read the full issue paper devoted to this topic.

Visit the CanFASD website for more information and resources related to education and FASD.


“I am not broken, I do not need fixing” – Myles Himmelreich

Myles Himmelreich has FASD and is a motivational speaker. Hear this incredibly powerful message from this amazing man and change maker!

In The News: Shame not the solution for preventing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, says advocate


0umzDCrm_400x400Claire Theobal, EDMONTON — On International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day, advocates warn shaming women may be doing more harm than good for at risk mothers and their babies.

“When we focus on FASD as simply being woman drinks alcohol causes FASD, we do a disservice to women as well as to the infants. FASD is a community issue, so awareness really needs to focus on what are the reasons behind a woman’s alcohol consumption while she’s pregnant,” said Lisa Rogozinsky, co-ordinator of the Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Network on Sunday.

According to provincial estimates, nearly nine in every thousand babies in Alberta are born with FASD — around 500 every year — meaning there are more than 46,000 Albertans with FASD.

FASD describes a wide range of physical and mental disabilities caused when a mother consumes alcohol during pregnancy, including physical birth defects, developmental delays, learning disabilities, memory problems, as well as difficulties in communicating their feelings and understanding consequences.

“When we don’t support people with FASD the way in which they need, what we see are these secondary challenges that can be devastating,” said Rogozinsky.

Those with FASD can sometimes struggle with learning from past experience and understanding risks or consequences, making them vulnerable to high risk behaviours.

For children, their symptoms can disrupt their ability to learn and interact with their classmates at school.

In adults, it can cause issues with maintaining employment, addiction, homelessness and trouble with the law.

A 2011 study of Canadian inmates found 10 per cent suffered the effects of FASD despite not having been diagnosed before intake into the prison system.

“People who have FASD, they have brain differences. That means how they learn, how they respond is going to look a little bit different than a neurotypical brain. The more we recognize this, we can support the individual the way they need,” said Rogozinsky.

While messaging that FASD is one hundred per cent preventable is often repeated, Rogozinsky said FASD needs to be treated as a community issue rather than a moral failure on the part of a mother.

“We need to take a social determinant of health perspective when it comes to prevention. Prevention is not about telling women not to drink, it’s about supporting them so that they capacity to abstain from alcohol,” Rogozinsky said.

For example, she would like to see those trying to prevent FASD look at other factors that may influence a woman’s ability to abstain from alcohol during pregnancy, such as homelessness or domestic violence, and provide targeted resources for pregnant women with chronic alcohol addiction issues.
Click here to read the full article.

CBC: Yukon woman speaks out about living with ‘the invisible disability’ — FASD

Jessica McMurphy of Whitehorse lives with FASD and works at the Yukon Transportation Museum. She says people need to know more about ‘the invisible disease.’ (Sandi Coleman/CBC)

When Jessica McMurphy of Whitehorse was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) at the age of 20, she saw the diagnosis as a sort of gift.

“It was a gift because I got a lot of added support,” she said.

McMurphy, now 32 years old, credits that support — from organizations like the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Society of Yukon (FASSY) and the Yukon Association for Community Living — for helping her build independence and find meaningful work.

She just started a new job this summer at the Yukon Transportation Museum, an ideal place for a history buff like her. McMurphy said she and her husband — also diagnosed with FASD — have their own place and pay their own bills.

“Anybody looking at us downtown would probably go, ‘you don’t look like you have a disability.’ Which is why they call it the invisible disability,” she said.

McMurphy said she’s seen a growing awareness of FASD in recent years, but feels there’s still a ways to go. That’s why she’s agreed to be featured in a new awareness campaign being launched this weekend in Yukon, by FASSY and the Association for Community Living. The launch is to coincide with FASD Awareness Day on Sunday.

McMurphy feels that people living with FASD don’t always get the support they need — especially if they’re seen as “high-functioning” individuals.

“A lot of people on social assistance who have disabilities and are on the disability side, after you make so much and you’re doing so well, they go, ‘oh good, you’re doing so well, let’s take that from you now,'” she said.

“Just because it looks like we’re doing really well, don’t pull [those supports] away, because that sets us up for failure.”

10-year FASD action plan

The Yukon government is working on an 10-year Yukon FASD “action plan,” and released the results of a year-long public consultation about what that plan might include last week.

The consultation saw government officials meet with Yukoners who live with FASD, their families, and service providers, in several communities. Those meetings happened between May 2017 and March 2018.

The results echo what McMurphy said — that too often, people with FASD do not receive the support they need, to reach their full potential. Sometimes, it’s because FASD goes undiagnosed or unrecognized.

According to the government’s “What We Heard” document summarizing the results of the consultations, stigma is also an issue.

It says too many Yukoners do not understand what it means to live with FASD, despite its prevalence. In 2016, the Public Health Agency of Canada estimated that between two and five per cent of Canadians live with FASD.

“Lack of awareness and understanding about FASD can lead to prejudice and discrimination toward people living with FASD. We heard that blaming and shaming is being felt in all communities,” the report says.

It’s not clear when the government’s 10-year FASD action plan will come out, although the “What We Heard” document says the government hopes to launch it in the summer of 2018 — which ends next week.

Retrieved from CBC at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/yukon-woman-fasd-awareness-1.4815244

Employment Opportunity: Bissell Centre FASD Program Manager


Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Programs Manager

Full Time • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum of Services

About Bissell Centre

Through our vision of eliminating poverty in our community, and guided by a passionate concern for the dignity and well-being of each individual, our work is based on building relationships, hope and trust. By addressing multiple needs, Bissell Centre provides a holistic approach to helping families and individuals.

Job Summary

Bissell Centre is looking for a qualified Manager of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Programs, who is responsible for the development, implementation, administration and evaluation of all FASD programs including Adult Advocate, Parent/Child Advocate, FASD Navigator, Community Education and FASD Permanent Supportive Housing Program (Hope Terrace). This permanent, full time position reports to the Director, Community Programs and Services.

Duties and Responsibilities

Program Delivery

  • Monitor and evaluate program delivery and quality on an on-going basis
  • Ensure compliance with funder requirements, including reporting of outputs and outcomes
  • Ensure program participants and staff have the opportunity to provide input into programs
  • Assist Director of Community Programs and Services to develop and implement an annual operational plan including goals, objectives and timelines
  • Coordinate FASD services with internal and external programs
  • Contribute to an interdependent organizational culture. Take an interest in, and contribute to, colleagues’ efforts horizontally in other departments. Lead staff with an expectation of inclusiveness and collaboration within the larger organization.
  • Represent the program or agency on relevant inter-agency coalitions, partnerships and collaborations (e.g. EFAN, Homeward Trust)
  • Ensure knowledge of FASD is current and keep up-to-date on new developments in the field
  • Coordinate and/or assist with developing proposals for new funding sources
  • Assist Team Leads in the coordination of student placements in programs
  • Communicate information about all aspects of program activity to ensure the Director, Community Programs and Services is well informed of developments within the program


  • Recruitment, hiring, orientation, training and day-to-day supervision of all direct report staff
  • Review, approve and submit staff time sheets and expenses
  • Approve and monitor staff overtime, health maintenance and vacation leaves
  • Assist Team Leads in the facilitation of regular staff meetings to inform, plan, direct and hear staff concerns
  • Schedule and supervise bi-weekly supervision meetings with all staff to ensure they meet their targeted goals, program delivery and submission of reports within the set timeframe and guideline
  • Complete probationary evaluations and annual performance reviews of all staff
  • Attend and participate in bi-weekly supervision meetings with the Director, Community Programs and Services


  • Develop, implement and monitor an annual program budget in cooperation with the Director, Community Programs and Services
  • Monitor, approve and submit receipts for program expenditures

General and Administrative

  • Assist Team Leads to ensure accurate case management notes, written file notes, program information, statistics and critical incident reports are completed for all program streams
  • Update job descriptions, program operating policies and procedures as required
  • Submit quarterly and annual program reports inclusive of outputs, outcomes, program highlights, stories and quality improvement initiatives
  • Attend Management Team meetings to address organizational issues and collaborate on organizational initiatives
  • Attend meetings as required by funders


Education and Experience

  • Degree in a related field or a combination of experience, skills and training will be considered
  • Minimum of three years supervisory experience
  • Extensive relevant employment experience including program development, case management, case supervision, evaluation and supervisory skills
  • Knowledge and experience working in the areas of; Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Parent and Child Advocate Program, Harm Reduction, Children Services, Addictions, Housing First, Outreach and Mental Health is an asset.
  • Evidence of innovation and creativity in supporting individuals would be an asset.
  • Employees with Social Work Diploma/Degree/Masters are required to provide and maintain ongoing registration, in good standing, with Alberta College of Social Workers (ACSW) as per Alberta Health Professions Act

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • Strong verbal and written communication skills
  • Strong interpersonal, time management, organizational and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to develop and manage annual budgets
  • Attention to detail, accuracy and quality
  • Demonstrated ability in computer literacy
  • Familiarity with issues of poverty, homelessness and Edmonton’s urban core
  • Understanding of Aboriginal cultures, history and current issues

Screening Requirements

  • Criminal Record Check
  • Child Intervention Check


Bissell Centre offers above average industry benefits including employer subsidized medical and dental benefits, life insurance, disability, flexible spending account, outstanding vacation and more.

Bissell Centre is an equal opportunity employer who is committed to diversity within our community and welcomes applications from all qualified individuals regardless of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, or disability. Bissell Centre is committed to the principle of equal employment opportunity for all employees, in accordance with provincially and federally legislated protected grounds.


Application Deadline: September 21st, 2018


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