Roseanne Fulton free on bail after assault

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS ARTICLE: Roseanne Fulton free on bail after assault

Yahoo! 7 News, 11 July 2014

Accessed on: 18 July 2014

Commentary by: Jeanelle Mandes

Rosie Fulton, from Alice Springs – the largest town in the Northern Territory in Australia, was incarcerated in an Australian prison for crashing a stolen vehicle.

She “was deemed unfit to stand trial because she has fetal alcohol syndrome disorder (FASD) and the mental age of a young child.”

Although it doesn’t specify if her FASD diagnosis was addressed or not, it makes you wonder about issues of vulnerability those with FASD face when it comes to crime.

According to a FASD online fact sheet, “People with FASD generally have problems understanding abstract concepts such as money or law. Theft of money is different to a person who is able to understand the value of money.”

“This difficulty with abstraction means that many persons with FASD cannot adequately imagine or consider the future. This places them at risk during stages of court processing, such as plea-bargaining, sentencing or a parole hearing, not to mention in their everyday life.

“FASD also increases vulnerability to manipulation and coercion because they want to please those they perceive to be in positions of authority.”

After reviewing the fact sheet and the news source, it indicates how some people with FASD can be easily intimidated by others. It’s unfortunate society takes advantage of those who have FASD looking at them as puppets on a string.

In situations such as Rosie Fulton, it is such a sad reality that she was sent to a prison because the Australian legal system didn’t have a place for her that met her needs. But there are people like the 120,000 who signed a petition to free Fulton that show the support and understanding of FASD.

 

Click here to see a CBC video called “Justice for people with FASD who commit crimes”.

Free pregnancy tests in bars an effort to curb Alaska’s FASD rates

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS ARTICLE: Free pregnancy tests in bars an effort to curb Alaska’s FASD rates

By: Charlo Green, KTVA Alaska, 20 June 2014

Accessed on: 17 July 2014

Commentary by: Jeanelle Mandes

Last month, Charlo Greene published an article about approaching the prevention of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) using a different method. The University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) Institute for Circumpolar Health Studies came up with an idea to introduce pregnancy tests in Alaskan bars. Alaska has a high rate of FASD and with this idea; they hope this technique will bring awareness to women who consume alcohol.

Janet Johnstone, with the UAA Institute for Circumpolar Health Studies, believes this approach may help women to think twice when about to consume alcohol if they may be pregnant.

“If someone is drinking at a bar and they see the test, they may just think about it a little more. Also if someone takes the test and finds out they’re pregnant, that hopefully will also have an effect on their drinking,” said Johnstone.

Not only will pregnancy test dispensers be available in bars, but there will also be posters with warning messages will be put up in some restaurants and bars.

With these two methods, there will be surveys provided for women to answer questions about the warning techniques. With the gathered data, the researchers will be able to gain a picture of which system reached out to the women best.

The bars and restaurants will start seeing these by the end of the year and the researchers will expect to have the outcomes within two years.

Others may wonder if these approaches are worth the effort but in a state with a high rate of FASD, many may think any technique is better than no technique.

FASD Research Project – Podcast #1

Lead by Dr. Michelle Stewart at the University of Regina, this research project investigates Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder with attention to the how FASD is understood in different communities of practice. This first podcast will introduce the listener to the project. NOTE: Please use Safari for best results.

Download mp3

Click here to listen to the second podcast, FASD And The Law

Q&A: Senator proposes state-funded pregnancy tests in ‘war’ on FASD

Q&A: Senator proposes state-funded pregnancy tests in ‘war’ on FASD

By: Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News, 20 March 2014

Accessed on: 6 April 2014

Commentary by: Sarah Cibart

FASD prevention is a mission shared by citizens and lawmakers alike. However, the path to achieving the mission varies and could be considered quite controversial.

Pete Kelly, finance co-chairman senator has declared his mission to end FASD through a campaign he’s calling a “war on FASD.” His plan includes: publically funded pregnancy tests in restaurants and bars in Alaska, millions of dollars towards “FASD awareness”, recruiting “citizen helpers” to counsel women to stop drinking before and during pregnancy, as well as further developing ideas in the anti substance abuse “think-tank board” Kelly created earlier this year in Alaska.

“The idea here is that the community is involved, the private sector is involved and the government is involved” says Kelly.

When Hopkins asked senator Kelly if birth control would be equally as accessible as pregnancy tests in Alaskan bars after the “FASD war” had begun, Kelly responded saying “No. Because the thinking is a little opposite. This assumes if you know [you are pregnant] you’ll act responsibly. Birth control is for people who don’t necessarily want to act responsibly.”

Such arguments suggest the primary goal in FASD prevention is changing the behaviours of individual women, rather than considering the larger systemic impacts that contribute to women drinking while pregnant. Although access to pregnancy tests and community counseling may be helpful, greater access to birth control and increasing education surrounding FASD would also be an efficient use of resources.

I suggest watching the full interview Hopkin’s has with Kelly. For further reading, check out Shannyn Moore’s opinion piece in response to Kelly’s campaign at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shannyn-moore/free-ept-tests-in-alaska_b_5015941.html

FASD program big success at Dryden school

FASD program big success at Dryden school

By: Grace Protopapas, Kenora Online, 18 March 2014

Accessed on: 24 March 2014

Commentary by: Sarah Cibart

Given the FASD Research Project’s upcoming workshop on strategies for new outcomes, this article appropriately highlights a progressive initiative being taken to adapt the learning environment for children with FASD.

At Open Roads School in Dryden, ON a new adapted classroom setting hosts children with FASD of various ages and abilities. One unique feature of the “FASD room” is that it covers colourful and distracting display boards and keeps toys and games hidden to minimize unnecessary distractions for the students.

“…a big thing is [that] we provide a safe environment to build their self esteem” says teacher Chona Dufrense as she boasts the effectiveness of the adapted learning environment.

So far there are only four students enrolled in this program. The ultimate goal for these students, says Dufrense, is integration into a larger classroom setting. This process, she says, will be very different for each of them. Her focus is playing to each of their diverse strengths.

As awareness of FASD continues to grow in Saskatchewan, the idea of an adapted FASD classroom within our schools becomes more manageable. With high rewards such as building strength and confidence for youth living with FASD, as well as supporting educators who struggle to meet the diverse needs of FASD students in a non-adaptive setting, the pros of an “FASD classroom” seem to outweigh the cons. With this in mind, it may take time and work to ensure youth with FASD feel safe and accepted in a separate adapted learning setting, and that social inclusion remains an important goal of educators and mentors.

Fetal alcohol fight in Crow Wing arms itself with new tool

Fetal alcohol fight in Crow Wing arms itself with new tool

By: Pam Louwagie, StarTribune, 8 Feb 2014

Accessed on: 20 Feb 2014

Commentary by: Krystal Glowatski

A new FASD prevention initiative is coming out of Crow Wing County, through the nonprofit organization “Healthy Brains for Children.”  The group will be dispersing breathalyzers to pregnant girls and girls who are known to drink alcohol.  Incentives such as gift cards and cell phone minutes will be provided for these girls to stay abstinent from alcohol.

How will this idea work?  “A California company called SoberLink is donating the small, pink Breathalyzers that will fit inside a purse or backpack and carry the label “My Baby’s Breath.”  A mom-to-be in the program will get a text reminding her of a scheduled breath test and she’ll have 45 minutes to breathe into the device using a small tube. The device will take a photo of the girl and register her breath’s alcohol content, then send that information to a computer over a cellular network.  If alcohol is detected, parents, counselors and others will be notified.”

The idea was created based on the story of one Minnesota woman who used official police breathalyzer equipment during her pregnancy.  “Teresa Haberman said she’s grateful that county officials offered her the equipment in her home after she had legal troubles during her pregnancy. She needed help, she said, and the accountability helped her stay sober.”  This woman is still sober.

What do you think?  A brilliant idea to put an end to FASD?  An initiative that will help some women during their pregnancy?  Or a thoughtful initiative, but maybe not the most effective strategy?  Please share your thoughts!

Whitehorse Celebrates New Affordable Housing

Whitehorse Celebrates New Affordable Housing

By: Marketwired, 19 Feb 2014

Accessed on: 20 Feb 2014

Commentary by: Krystal Glowatski

In a show of support and recognition of those living with FASD, a new secure living complex has been opened in Whitehorse, Yukon.  This initiative was led by the Options for Independence Society, and supported/funded by the Canadian Government, the Yukon Government, and many community partners.

“This facility will provide a safe environment for some of our most vulnerable citizens who face real challenges.  I am happy that as a government we are able to assist more people who are in need of this type of support,” said Minister of Health and Social Services, Doug Graham.  “The opening of the new building also demonstrates this government’s commitment to providing services to those in need in this community.”

Many key partners funded this project, and the result is 14 new housing units for individuals affected by FASD.  Once safe and affordable housing is achieved for individuals with FASD, the focus can shift to their more pressing needs (for example connecting to community resources).

Just released: The international charter on prevention of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

Just released: The international charter on prevention of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

Accessed on: 27 Feb 2014

Commentary by: Krystal Glowatski

While this isn’t a news article – this is ‘FASD in the News’ at it’s best!  Just released yesterday is the International Charter on Prevention of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.  If you have any interest at all in FASD, I urge you to read this short article.  It highlights every point and argument I can think of surrounding FASD.

Since I can’t say it better, I’m going to provide you with a few of my favourite lines and leave the rest up to you:

 

“Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is a serious health and social problem, as well as an educational and legal issue, which affects individuals, families, and societies worldwide.”

“Although maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy is the direct cause of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, many underlying causes exist for drinking during pregnancy.”

“The perception that fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is affected only by a woman’s choices is a major barrier to effective prevention efforts. Men also have a responsibility.”

“Although public knowledge of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is high in some countries, it is very low worldwide.”

“Informative materials about fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in regionally-specific languages, and that are relevant to local cultures and systems, are needed.”

 

If this doesn’t get your interest, I don’t know what will.  Please – read, comment, share!  This is a very exciting moment in the world of FASD research and practice.

Lives and crimes: Kids who suffer foetal alcohol spectrum disorder

Lives and crimes: Kids who suffer foetal alcohol spectrum disorder

By: Patrick Begley, The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 Feb 2014

Accessed on: 20 Feb 2014

Commentary by: Krystal Glowatski

While this article is focused on FASD in the Australian context, the author does an excellent job of outlining some of the issues FASD presents for clients and professionals in the justice system.

Australian FASD experts have claimed their country is about 20 years behind Canada in the recognition of FASD.  Many justice professionals still are not aware of the disorder or how it impacts the justice system experience.  This is a timely piece, as we are soon hosting a workshop targeted toward helping front-line workers (i.e., justice professionals, social workers, and those who work in community-based organizations) strategize effective ways to work with clients who have FASD and available resources to proceed with this work.

Some of the issues associated with FASD, as outlined in this article are: lack of patience, impulsivity, issues with memory/event recall, and short attention span.  Consequently, this may result in repeatedly breaking the law, lack of understanding action and consequence, false confessions, and the possibility of easy manipulation.

The author of this article points out a number of times that FASD is indeed brain damage – something that doesn’t seem to be expounded on nearly enough in my opinion.  Let me say it again, FASD is a brain injury.  This means that while some people display the physical attributes associated to the disorder (such as small stature, small eyes, a thin top lip, etc.), many individuals with FASD do not present at all.  However, this doesn’t mean they don’t suffer in terms of mental abilities.  If someone is in an accident and suffers an ABI (acquired brain injury), you can see how they may be affected by the injury cognitively and behaviorally.  It is the same with individuals who have FASD – they essentially have a brain injury – it’s just that the brain was injured during prenatal development.

The author also refers to FASD as “the hidden harm.”  In other words, this disorder may often be mistaken for other disorders such as autism or ADD.  I know from speaking with professionals in the field that misdiagnosing FASD is perhaps one of the worst things that could happen to the individual with FASD.  The treatment and practices surrounding FASD are much different than those associated to autism or attention deficit disorders, and could actually be harmful to the individual who has been misdiagnosed.  Furthermore, a misdiagnosis may mean the individual never receives an accurate diagnosis.

Australia has set aside government funds to approach FASD, however, as this article discusses, it’s unclear how they are going to go about using the funds.  Some say there’s too much focus on prevention (something I believe I have stated in previous blog posts on this site), and not enough allocation or attention to those who already have FASD – we cannot forget about these individuals.

While this has been a lengthy post, I really encourage you to read the article itself.  The author, along with the subject matter experts, have done a wonderful job of summarizing the impacts of FASD on the justice system – both for justice professionals and for the clients who are affected by FASD.

Group of lawmakers fighting fetal alcohol syndrome

Group of lawmakers fighting fetal alcohol syndrome

By: Matt Buxton (Fairbanks Daily News: Newsminer.com), 3 Feb 2014

Accessed on: 3 Feb 2014

Commentary by: Krystal Glowatski

A group of lawmakers in Alaska have “declared war on fetal alcohol syndrome.”  The new public health campaign known as “Empowering Hope” consists of a variety of members: Kelly, Sen. Anna Fairclough, R-Eagle River, former Doyon executive Norm Phillips, Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority CEO Jeff Jessee, University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton, retired Superior Court Judge Niesje Steinkruger, Val Davidson of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and former Rep. Reggie Joule.

One of the initiatives the group hopes to instate is “natural responders” within rural communities.  These people would “serve as a rural community’s first responder to help keep a pregnant woman from endangering her unborn child with alcohol.”  Touching on a previous blog I wrote in February, the group will also initiate an awareness campaign to make women aware of the dangers of drinking while pregnant.

Kelly states, “this approach — having and [sic] end-goal of eradicating the problem — is a much-needed departure from traditional thinking.”  I think the widespread, common goal already focuses on eradication, based on all of the talk of prevention across the country, and indeed, internationally.  It will be interesting to see what the following weeks will bring in terms of information on “Empowering Hope’s” plan for the short and long-term.  Perhaps there will be some innovative approaches coming out of Alaska in the near future.