Challenged Hope

Grandmother Raising Mentally Disabled Grandchildren in the city of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada


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Teens with FASD have trouble determining what to do in difficult situations and often won’t ask pertinent questions as they want to be accepted by peers. They will often accept any request in order to join in and be part of the group.


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Gang Reduction Strategy

There is a program in Hamilton ON, that offers help to youth at-risk for gang involvement or, are in gangs and want out. The brochure states …. YARD Hamilton is a community-based Gang Reduction Strategy initiative that supports youth who are in a gang or at risk for gang involvement.

The YARD TEAM will provide services such as:

  • Individual Counselling/Case Management
  • Life Skills
  • Employment Skills
  • Educational Support

YARD Hamilton will work to develop an individualized case management plan that is client centered in order to help youth at risk avoid or escape the gang lifestyle. Participants will be screened and placed in one of two streams. Each stream will consist of one and a half hours of programming and one hour and a half of recreation twice per week.

Prevention- The program will set out to assist youth at risk with gang affiliation through a 12 week program and 12 weeks of community support with a mentor.

Intervention- The program provides support to individuals who have been identified as having high risk for gang affiliation or have confirmed gang affiliation. Participants will complete 24 weeks of programming and 24 weeks of support with a mentor.

Referral Criteria:

  • 12 – 24 years of age
  • Male or Female
  • At risk of gang involvement or currently involved in a gang
  • Desire to make positive changes in their life

For more information about the YARD program:

  • Tel: 905-522-4446 ext. 308
  • email: yardhamilton@jhshamilton.on.ca 
  • Address: John Howard Society, 654 Barton East, Hamilton, ON L8R 1B1


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FASD Feelings

Kids with FASD often believe their feelings or opinions are worthless, therefore it’s important to distinguish and label emotions so the individual can more easily recognize and express their feelings.

http://www.fasd.alberta.ca offers a booklet titled: FASD Strategies and Solutions. There I found a page on Feelings and Emotions which reads: “…. teach emotions in a concrete way (e.g. smiling means happy).”

  • A “check-in” time for internal feelings will help in stating which feelings are physical and concrete.
  • After an outburst, talk about what your child felt during the meltdown; for example, a beating heart, sweaty hands, hot face. Attach the concrete feeling to the meltdown so she can begin to identify what feelings are connected to certain behaviours.
  • In order to be able to act appropriately to any emotion, your child must first have some way to recognize concretely what she is feeling. That feeling must then be named and “rules” for appropriate reaction to that feeling must be made.
  • Create a “feelings” dictionary, using line-drawings of complete stick men rather than just facial expressions for those most common feelings the child is likely to experience. A complete body can show more than just a face and is much easier for the child to associate with what he is feeling. Have one emotion per page.
  • Always name emotions very clearly. With teens and adults, name the emotion first and then follow with the words their friend’s use (“angry” vs. “pissed off”).
  • To encourage emotional expression, use a gingerbread man outline drawing and simple colour codes (e.g. red for anger, blue for sad, yellow for happy, and gray for blank). Have your child colour on the gingerbread man where he has those feelings. This can give you a quick and immediate idea of the state of emotional health (e.g., red in the head and the hands is a good indicator of being ready to “lose it”; gray in the head and on the body is a good indication of being “shut down”). this will help, especially when the child is not able to verbalize her thoughts and feelings.
  • Once the feeling is identified correctly, have a simple plan to help the child. For instance:
  1. “Losing it” – use calm down technique.
  2. Caregiver is “ticked off” – stand still, look at caregiver and listen.
  3. “Tired” – lie down and rest.
  4. “Frustrated” – have a list of physical activities that she can do and have her choose between two.
  5. “Angry” – express it physically in a previously identified acceptable and safe manner.

Do not expect: 

  • Insight
  • Application of yesterday’s learning to today’s experiences
  • That the child will remember a feeling from one time to the next without support.

The child will not necessarily be able to understand the emotions of others just because we were not able to help her understand her own.

 

 


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FASD Teens forming Friendships

Teens with FASD often struggle to form friendships, so it is vital they interact with other teens who face similar challenges. My teen grandchildren are enrolled in a Comprehensive Class at school which affords them the opportunity to find friends among their classroom peers, while experiencing friendships with non-disabled peers via the school’s Best Buddy program.


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Understanding Teenage FASD

With the exception of my youngest granddaughter, my grandchildren are now teenagers. While I appreciate the extra time I now have to explore my own identity after years of discovering my children’s and then my grandchildren’s, raising teens with FASD is not much different from raising youngsters with FASD. Both stages bring their own fun times, surprises, achievements, challenges, and stress, but one thing I’ve noticed with FASD teens is their struggle to achieve independence which, of course, raises concerns over what happens when they eventually leave home.

With guidance and support, non-disabled teens usually achieve independence, but FASD teens need guidance and support just to get through each day. Without that support they can become disoriented and anxious, unsure of what step to take next, especially regarding daily routines like bathing, brushing teeth, regular meal times, laundry, managing allowance, etc; all aspects of life necessary for successful independence.


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Childhood Incest

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Viga Boland, author of No Tears For My Father. She is a survivor of incest and, in her book, writes about her experiences with this terrible crime. I realize this subject is of a sensitive nature, but if you would like to read how this evil oppression can destroy the minds of children, please go to the top menu bar of my website and hover over Expert Views, reading down the list until you find Viga Boland, Incest Survivor or visit her website at http://www.vigaboland.com.


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Depression & Pregnancy

Valuable Resource For Women Suffering With Depression In Pregnancy

Laura Chapman of http://www.psychguides.com writes:

If a woman has a history of depression, she is more likely to suffer with depressed mood during pregnancy. However, even women without previous mental health problems can develop low mood when pregnant. Women may not appreciate that they are suffering from depression which can adversely affect their own health, as well as the well-being of their unborn child. This helpful guide on the subject of coping with depressed mood while expecting highlights the importance or receiving timely diagnosis and treatment. The various treatment options are discussed, providing an overview of the non-drug therapies available for women with milder depression or for whom antidepressants are contraindicated.

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