Day 26 of 99 Days to FASDay: Focus on the Positive


Today’s tip is a great one, isn’t it? It can be easy to focus on the negative and forget the small or big successes that do happen.

What does the Looking After Each Other project have to say?

The public understands that people with FASD have challenges. A continual focus on this creates a belief that these challenges are the main attributes of people with FASD.

I get this. We want people to hear us, about how difficult it is to parent a child with FASD, but what will that accomplish? If we want to stop the stigma. I can’t really speak for the maiden, or the FASD community, I am only one of many moms and dads and caregivers who write about their experiences, and I’m by no means an expert, but I hear we have to share the good stories. Before our 99-day journey is done, we will be sharing some positive stories.

Myles H

According to Myles, interviewed for an article in the Terrace Standard : he doesn’t spend time focusing on the negatives, he focuses on his strengths and says society needs to think this way too. He wants people to know what they can do to understand a person with FASD.

Instead of seeing their behaviours as bad, instead ask ‘where does this behaviour come from?’

FASD is a brain injury, similar to what people sometimes get in a car accident and the problem is it’s an invisible disability. If someone is in a wheelchair, people would likely hold the door open for them; if you see someone wearing a hearing aid, you will speak louder.

In other words, when people see someone with a disability, they will accommodate that person but when they don’t see a disability, they think it’s the person’s behaviour that’s at fault.

It’s best to ask yourself how you can have more patience or understanding with the person or ask that person what works for him or her; how can we change to support the individual.

Myles was interviewed about growing up with FASD for CBC Radio White Coat Black Art show in 2019. Click the link (or the QR Code): ‘You’re weird, you’re different and nobody wants to be your friend’: the loneliness of FASD

qrcode_MH interview You are weird

“I use the acronym FASD not just as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, but as a way that I choose to live my life. And that is: F is for Faith; A is for ability; S is for strength; and D is for determination,” he said.

“And I feel if you can live your life through that, you’ll find where you fit in this world. You’ll find your purpose, because everybody has a purpose.”

It’s a great article with others interviewed: Laurie Whyte and her son Richie and Dr. Ana Hanlon-Dearman, medical director at the Manitoba FASD centre and network in Winnipeg.

2018 Update:

Strengths Among Individuals with FASD

In September 2018 the above-noted issue paper was published by Katherine Flannigan, Kelly Harding, Dorothy Reid, and the Family Advisory Committee from CanFASD. From the Report:

The vast majority of FASD research is focused on the challenges and impairments associated with the disability, as well as the burden of FASD on families and the broader community. This type of research can help to validate the experiences of individuals with FASD and their families, and to inform where services and supports might be needed the most.

However, the simultaneous lack of strengths-based studies can perpetuate a sense of shame, suffering, and victimization, and contribute to the stigma already associated with FASD. By neglecting to explore the successes of individuals with FASD, we fail to recognize their immense potential and celebrate the unique contributions that each individual has to offer.

The following recommendations were made:

  1. There is an urgent need for more research to highlight the strengths and gifts of individuals with FASD. The challenges that exist for individuals with FASD should be acknowledged and addressed as deficits-based research is valuable in creating a pathway of understanding. However, focusing solely on challenges can perpetuate a sense of stigma that surrounds the disability. Therefore, another research pathway should be created to highlight strengths and abilities and to understand how best to promote and build on the unique abilities of each individual with FASD to facilitate their full and successful participation in society.
  2. It is critical that the voices of individuals with FASD are included in future strengths-based research. Larger-scale studies will help us to explore a profile of strengths among individuals with FASD and this research should be conducted across the lifespan to identify strengths and abilities at various ages and life stages.
  3. Some strengths-based interventions exist for the FASD population, however, there are no published studies to document the effectiveness of these programs to date. Evidence-based interventions and accommodations that reduce barriers while also encouraging an individual’s strengths to emerge are needed. As such, another research priority should be to determine whether and how strengths-based interventions improve outcomes for individuals with FASD and their families.
  4. Although the focus of this issue paper is on the strengths of individuals with FASD, it will also be important to explore and build on the strengths of families caring for these individuals. As well, many Canadian communities – especially those in rural and remote locations – excel at harnessing existing resources and knowledge to best meet the needs of individuals with FASD and their families. Additional research on strengths-based community approaches would shed light on effective ways of responding to local needs.
  5. The use of innovative methods of data collection, such as Photovoice, may help to capture the strengths of individuals, families, and communities in creative and unique ways.

For more, you can read the review: Strengths Among Individuals with FASD from CanFASD or check out an interview with two of the principles on Episode 98 of The FASD Success Show podcast.

 So let’s accommodate and focus on the positive. Accept what is, plan and move on.

2022 Update:

Originally this page had an introduction to Red Shoes Rock. This campaign aims to raise the profile and awareness of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and celebrate and recognize the advocacy and strengths of people with FASD, families and professionals. A separate post was created in 2022 compiling information from this post and others: Check out: Why do Red Shoes Rock for FASD?

And check back tomorrow for Day 27!

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