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FASD E.L.M.O. NETWORK
FASD ELMO NETWORK

FASD E.L.M.O. is hosting an Information Open House on Friday, September 8, 2017 from Noon-1:30 p.m. at 1250 Dundas St. London in the Katherine Harley Room. For More Information Contact:
Craig Read: 519-494-7916 and
Juanita St. Croix: 519-630-2240
Co-Chairs of the FASD E.L.M.O. NETWORK
fasdelmo@gmail.com

Priority Statement:

The top three priorities for the FASD E.L.M.O. Network are to promote and support interagency, inter-ministry, and intergovernmental efforts in the areas of:

  • prevention,
  • neurodevelopmental assessments,
  • family-focused supports and interventions.

Since FASD: A Framework for Action was released by Health Canada in 2003, advocates for appropriate services continue to be discouraged by lack of diagnostic services and supports - leading to some very daunting statistics:

  • In spite of awareness campaigns the rates of drinking have increased over the past 20 years. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/203013.php Canadian studies confirm concerning use of alcohol: ‘increases were also found in daily drinking among past year drinkers, from 5.3% in 2002 to 9.3% in 2009. This increase was especially prominent among women and drinkers aged 18 to 29 (from 1.3% in 2000 to 7.2% in 2009)' http://www.camh.net This has the potential to increase the incidence of FASD.
  • Currently 89 % of children identified with an FASD are in permanent care of an agency or being raised by people other than their biological parents. PDF
  • NOFAS reports up to 70 % of children in care could have been exposed to alcohol prenatally PDF
  • 70 % of children who are affected are unsuccessful in school, suffering suspensions, expulsions and dropping out. Over their lifespan, 94 % of affected individuals suffer mental health problems, including depression and suicidal ideation. 60 % suffer periods of confinement in in-patient mental health facilities or become incarcerated. (Dr. Ann Streissguth in University of Washington longitudinal studies…)
  • The estimated 1% of our population who suffer from FASD contribute to at least 60% of the prison population in a recent Alberta study…'Early diagnosis, a supportive environment, and early intervention have been identified as crucial factors to optimize outcomes for affected individuals.' PDF
  • The cost of FASD annually to Canada from day of birth to 53 years old, has been determined to be $5.3 billion. (Can J Clin Pharmacol. 2009 Winter; 16 (1):e91-102. Epub 2009 Jan 23.)

We sincerely believe that increasing community awareness, capacity for diagnostics and services, and the implementation of evidence-based, family-focused interventions and supports would significantly improve outcomes for individuals who are affected by FASD and aid in prevention efforts.

Prevention:

With regard to prevention, advocates are concerned about inconsistent messaging about alcohol exposure, and a lack of targeted training for health care professionals related to prenatal advice and alcohol use screening. The physical facial features of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome occur before a woman is likely to know that she is pregnant, and since the brain is developing throughout her pregnancy, the teratogenic effects of alcohol exposure can have a serious impact on her developing fetus for the full term of gestation. The Public Health Agency of Canada has stated that the incidence of FASD is about 1%, however, increasing women's drinking rates, and documented rates of unplanned pregnancies indicate a potentially much higher exposure rate; and with a lack of diagnostic capacity, the loss of human potential due to alcohol exposure is very hard to document.

We would request that with the current state of understanding, all messaging promote abstaining from alcohol for any woman who hopes to, or might become pregnant. Further that the use of screening tools such as T-ACE be promoted for use by all women's health care practitioners to minimize the impact of FASD on children. Health curriculum which promotes good prenatal health and clearly identifies the dangers of exposure to alcohol and other teratogens would also aid in prevention efforts.

Diagnostics – Neurodevelopmental Assessments:

Since alcohol affects brain development and function, neurodevelopmental assessments assist families and professionals to understand the functional strengths and needs of both children and adults. For individuals who have been impacted by prenatal alcohol exposure, an accurate, multidisciplinary assessment of strengths and needs is crucial for implementing supportive approaches to learning, physical, emotional and social development. In spite of the amazing diagnostic capacities in our richly endowed local health and mental health systems, FASD is often considered only after an individual has had multiple related diagnoses, and ineffective interventions. This is particularly concerning as consistency is important to positive development. A proper assessment at any age can guide appropriate supports and interventions. Sadly, though, an FASD identification is often considered after secondary disabilities have developed, as ineffective interventions impact on the individual's relationship with their family and community, often bringing them into conflict with the law.

The multidisciplinary assessment team which has been created by our area's FASD Coalition through a recent Trillium grant will help to increase understanding of the impact and incidence of FASD, but, as a pilot, will only assess a small number of children and youth, and sustainability is always a concern. The willingness of many local agencies to cooperate in this venture and support families and individuals in a team approach is indicative of the high level of commitment within our community; however, secured funding and designated resources are required in order to ensure that families identified will have access to comprehensive and timely assessments, and that our community continues to build capacity in the area of FASD-specific support programs and services.

Family-Focused Intervention and Supports:

One of the key determinants of successful outcomes for individuals who are impacted by FASD is having a stable home life. Again, sadly, of those identified with FASD, the statistics of multiple caregivers and family breakdowns are daunting. Family-focused supports and interventions which are guided by a clear understanding of FASD and the strengths and needs of the individual, as well as the abilities and needs of the caregivers are urgently needed in a deliberate, coordinated approach over the lifespan. The identification and services related to FASD currently use resources which are provided by many agencies and ministries. With the multiple needs often identified in individuals who are affected, again, a multidisciplinary team approach will be critical in improving positive outcomes and reducing the criminalization of individuals who struggle with brain damage that occurred before they were born. Less than 10 percent of individuals who are diagnosed are able to live independently in adulthood, so supports based on functional ability are required for success in all aspects of life, work and relationships.

This region is particularly well-positioned to implement any pilot projects and document the success of work that is being done. Our health, mental health, education, justice, academic, and adult and youth services sectors are poised to respond to a call to coordinated action. Network member organizations are committed to professional development and use of evidence-based and emerging practices related to prevention, assessment and service. The FASD Elgin, London, Middlesex Oxford Network has a clear mandate to move forward in the areas of prevention, assessment and services; and the deliberate cross-representation that is occurring to infuse information about emerging practices in discussions related to FASD will ensure progress in improving understanding.

Currently, without clear direction in the field, individuals, groups and regions are struggling to create grassroots change leading to a huge investment of human resources that could be better used. There is an enormous duplication of efforts across regions and a high level of burnout for professionals and families who work tirelessly to promote improved understanding and better use of resources to prevent FASD and support individuals and families who struggle with FASD.

We look forward to working with you to promote advancements in preventing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and recognizing and providing supports for individuals and families who are impacted by PAE.

FASD and Behaviour....
We are taught that behaviour is learned, deliberate, manipulative, and responsive to discipline but with FASD it is often reactive, impulsive, immature and becomes worse with consequences


Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 August 2017 15:29:17 PM EST

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