On Tuesday, October 8, over 80 service providers and caregivers from the counties of Lanark, Leeds‑Grenville, Renfrew, and the cities of Ottawa, Belleville and Kingston gathered at Hanley Hall in Smiths Falls to hear a presentation on best practices on educating students with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Janet Carioni, occupational therapist on CDSBEO’s multidisciplinary assessment team, was the keynote speaker and spoke about the strengths and challenges of students with FASD. The day started with greetings from Margaret Van Beers of Kids Inclusive and the Special Needs Strategy Committee and Shelley More of the Rural FASD Support Network. Janet then spent a couple hours talking about how students with FASD need support in areas on sensory stimuli, abstract thought, social interactions and safe choices.
Following the excellent lunch served by the Catholic Women’s League of Smiths Falls, the participants were given case studies involving either a student with FASD or their caregiver, and asked how they would support these people in their current capacity.
The most recent research says between 3‑4% of all students will have FASD, making it the most prevalent type of neurological disability. The only way someone can get FASD is as a fetus through alcohol intake in utero. It is also important to know there is no safe amount of consumed alcohol at any point during pregnancy. Research has also shown that without proper supports, students with FASD are very vulnerable to adverse outcomes. While there is no cure for FASD, early intervention, particularly in preschool and kindergarten, can make a large impact on the future success of the child with FASD.
The Rural FASD Support Network is a non‑profit organization dedicated to supporting individuals with FASD and their caregivers, and advocating on their behalf. We meet face to face on the third Saturday of the month at Calvary Bible Church in Smiths Falls at 10:30, where childcare is also provided. We also meet virtually through our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/RuralFASDOntario/?ref=bookmarks.