Parenting a child with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) doesn’t involve any extra challenges, just different challenges.

Diane Crocker dcrocker@thewesternstar.com
Published on November 28, 2014
Dave Martin and Laura Casey Foss led a FASD 101 Workshop at the College of the North Atlantic in Corner Brook on Thursday, . — Photo by Diane Crocker/The Western Star

Workshop participants find knowledge and support

“Every child comes with their own set of unique characteristics and this is just a different set of challenges for that child,” said Mary, a foster mother of five years who has cared for close to 20 children, including one now with FASD.

She likens it to having a baby with colic versus one without.

“So you just learn to parent that child differently. You learn different parenting styles with that child.”

That’s why “knowledge is the key” for her and why she attended a FASD 101 workshop at the College of the North Atlantic in Corner Brook on Thursday.

The workshop was offered by the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Newfoundland and Labrador Network through a provincial health and wellness grant.

It was facilitated by Dave Martin, co-chair of the network and provincial education co-ordinator with Key Assets, and Laura Casey Foss, a registered psychologist with Western Health.

The workshop wasn’t Mary’s first.

She said you can attend the same workshop over and over and get something new out of each time. There’s always new information and things being updated all the time, she said.

Through the workshop, Mary and the 19 others who attended learned that as a child gets older their strengths and their challenges are going to change. So each time they hear one of these presentations they are relating it to a different child with a different set of needs.

That’s something Mary has found over the past year with her foster child.

“When I heard it a year ago he was a different age and a different developmental level than what he is now. So I’m relating different things to that child this time.”

While Mary has experience with FASD, Gertie doesn’t.

That’s why the foster parent of one year attended the workshop.

She said not having a child with FASD means there are certain things she’d be less likely to know about or even to ask about.

But with rising incidents she knows the likelihood of encountering it is high.

“It’s only a matter of time,” she said. Like bringing your own child into the world, Gertie said. “You don’t know what they’re going to develop, what’s going to happen.”

So she wants to be better prepared and the workshop helped in that by giving her information about the network and supports.

Mary said often foster parents are called on to provide respite for each other, so giving them the knowledge to be able to care for a FASD child is important to that happening.

Another goal of the workshop is to start more chapters of the network to increase the support network and the provide a stronger structure for lobbying for support.

 

The Western Star