Challenged Hope

Grandmother raising Grandchildren with FASD in Hamilton Ontario Canada

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Pregnancy kits and FASD

Getting the FASD word out!

FASD 2016

FASD 2016. Speak Up, and make this year the last year for FASD.

One problem with FASD is, people are unaware it can be prevented, so here is a thought: One way to let mothers know how to keep their baby FASD free, is to print the words – AVOID ALCOHOL WHEN PREGNANT—not only on the packaging of pregnancy test kits, but on the testing unit itself. Though no method is foolproof, especially when the mother has drunk alcohol before realizing she is pregnant, this one could help. Having that advice printed clearly and in bold letters on the testing unit, could convince a woman who has just discovered she is pregnant, to abstain from alcohol during her pregnancy. What do you think?

A front line perspective on FASD

If you would like a front line perspective on FASD, read my two ebook memoirs, Two Decades of Diapers, and, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years, both of which address my twenty years raising four grandchildren with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. and available from your Amazon, these links, and many other ebook distributors. Both are only .99 cents (usd).



Hello? Is anyone listening?

Does anyone really care?

Is it just me, or does the incident I experienced recently also shock others. I was so appalled by what I saw that I contacted The Hamilton (ON) Spectator newspaper, the ODS (Ontario Disability Services), the Hamilton mayor, Fred Eisenberger, Monique Taylor, NDP MPP for Hamilton Mountain, and Scott Duvall, MP for Hamilton Mountain, to get their reaction to the event.

A letter of concern

By reading the following email I sent to those recipients, you will discover what concerned me:

“During the past twenty years, I have raised four grandchildren with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: a severe disability caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. So, you can imagine my horror when, on Tuesday, August 30th, 2016, I arrived at 119 King West with my granddaughter for an appointment, and saw a long line-up of people with disabilities outside the government building, waiting behind a sign clearly marked “ODSP Line-Up”. When I asked one person what they were lining up for, I discovered that ODSP cheques were being hand distributed due to the probability of a postal strike.

The area is precarious with heavy traffic, excessive noise, and bustling crowds, and that morning was no exception. Exposing people with disabilities to those elements in that manner undermined their safety and their right to privacy as ODSP recipients.

From my experiences raising grandchildren with mental health issues, I am fully aware of the intense disdain harbored by many in our city toward the mentally disabled. Such contempt makes them vulnerable targets in such situations. Given the intense challenges associated with organizing large gatherings of disabled persons, it only makes sense that outside line-ups on public streets should be avoided at all times.

I hope you seek the opportunity to ask the organizer of that planned line-up what they were thinking by putting convenience above the safety, and privacy of our citizens within the disabled community.”

I sent that email on August 31st 2016. On September 2nd, I received this reply from Mayor Eisenberger:

Hi Barbara,

Thank you for reaching out to me and I am sorry to hear of your recent experience at 119 King Street West. I have copied MPP Horwath’s office as the office is in her riding, and please again accept my apologies.

He’s right, I should have contacted MPP Horwath, as the incident happened in her riding, but despite the mayor forwarding my email to her office I have yet to hear from her, and wonder if I ever will. Neither has The Spectator, the ODS, nor the MPP or MP answered my email. So my question–Am I the only one shocked by such disregard toward individuals with disabilities?–remains unanswered. Perhaps, you, my blog reader, can answer that question for me. If you are a person with a disability, or are involved with one, I would love to hear your comment on this matter.

If you have never been involved with an individual with a disability, you might not fully understand, nor share my concern, so I have put the situation in perspective through the following illustration. Note the signs forcing people to reveal their medical information to all who happen be in the vicinity, which is what the ODSP office did to their recipients.

Disregard of Privacy

Disregard of Privacy


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FASD & Homelessness

Homelessness is a serious consequence of FASD!

Wake up! to FAS

Wake up to issues associated with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

FASD & Homelessness. Children with FASD are often described as ten-second kids in a one-second world, meaning they are always behind in the race of life. While true, through my experience raising grandchildren with FASD, I would suggest a change to that teaching: lifetime kids in a one-second world.

Continual repetition of a directive is vital for children with FASD. While the child lives at home, such repetition is available from a supportive caregiver, but once the child becomes an adult and leaves home, the support often stops, and the individual is left to their own devices. One consequence of this is homelessness.

Homelessness is a serious issue for adults with FASD. The stress of homelessness can lead to depression, suicidal thoughts, isolation, loneliness, substance abuse, and criminal activity. One might believe homeless people are lazy and should pick themselves up, get support, and make some kind of effort to get off the streets, but guess what, a person with FASD is not always aware of available supports. No one is born knowing the availability of social services. Unless someone makes the effort to inform a disable person of the supports available, chances are they will believe they are entirely on their own when it comes to making change: an impossible task for someone with FASD.

FASD & Homelessness.

To learn more about the struggles and challenges associated with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, read my second memoir, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years, the sequel to my first memoir, titled, Two Decade of Diapers.

FAS: The Teen Years

Now Available: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, The Teen Years. Barbara Studham’s memoir sequel to Two Decades Of Diapers

The following is an excerpt from that memoir…

It is two in the morning. I am lying on my bed. My mind races while my eyes droop sleepily but not until I hear the front door open and my fifteen-year old grandson, Cracker, walk inside, will I allow myself sleep. Yes, he will be high, that’s a given, and he more than likely shoplifted to pay for his weed… but, is he safe? Please, please, let him be safe.  

Normal teen activities elude Cracker. Arrested numerous times for criminal activity including shoplifting, stealing bikes, vandalism, threatening with a knife, and resisting arrest, he is released back into my custody each time because his Fetal Alcohol Syndrome deems him less of a delinquent and more of a victim.

“Next time, Buddy,” the police officer says, giving him a stern look. “Next time, you won’t be so lucky. Next time you will be charged. Next time you will have to pay… next time… next time… next time.”

Despite the warnings, during the four years he has broken the law, next time has never come. Will it come today? At times like this, when fearful over Cracker’s whereabouts and craving reassurance, my thoughts slip back fifteen years to when I first saw him… excerpt from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years. Chapter 3. Copyright 2016 Barbara Studham.

Barbara Studham's ebooks

Barbara Studham’s ebooks

FASD & Homelessness.

All my books, memoir and fiction, including Two Decades of Diapers, and, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years, are available from your Amazon Store, the following links, and many ebook distributors.

For more information visit my author blog at


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Dads and FASD

Wake up! to FAS

Wake up to issues associated with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Can a father be responsible for FASD in their newborn?

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, or FASD, does not get the attention it deserves, which is sad, because both parents, through the abstinence of alcohol, can prevent the disorder during conception and pregnancy.

Both parents, you say?

Yes, you read it right. Information is coming forward that fathers can also be responsible for causing FASD in their child, so now the world can stop mother shaming. Or, as my author friend, Viga Boland, put it, “Good to know we can stop putting the blame solely on women for yet another social ill.” And, believe me, she knows what she is talking about because I have heard people blame her for her father’s incestuous abuse during her childhood. (Read her book: No Tears For My Father).

Dads and FASD

To learn about the seriousness of fathers drinking at conception, browse the following websites for information.

Free Downloads

Time is running out to download my two memoirs for FREE, Two Decades Of Diapers, and, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years, from my website: The website will soon be closing and replaced with my new website



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Great Expectations

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is preventable, not curable.

FASD 2016

FASD 2016. Speak Up, and make this year the last year for FASD.


After twenty years of raising four grandchildren with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, my care-giving duties are winding down and will eventually end. For my grandchildren, however, FAS will never end. For their entire lives, they will wake up each day facing mental illness. My heart cries for them, especially when FAS is preventable.

Great Expectations

Societies’ expectations for individuals with FAS to overcome the challenges associated with mental illness and achieve success are considerable. However, despite my intense care-giving, their special education, and services they receive for people with mental disabilities, every day, my grandchildren struggle to fulfill the basics of daily living, let alone have the ability to reach some idealized expectation placed upon them by the world. Why waste time setting far-fetched goals for people with FAS? Instead, learn about the disability, their individual needs, complex behaviors, social skills, and learning disabilities, and, despite the limitations of mental illness, strive to make them feel worthwhile within their communities.

My Memoirs

For a limited time, my two memoirs describing the twenty years I raised my grandchildren with FAS, are FREE to download to an e-reader from my website:

They are also available to purchase from Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and other ebook distributors.

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Is Writing On Your Mind?

Stop thinking about it, and start writing!

Do you live in the Hamilton/Wentworth area? Is writing on your mind, or is it your passion, or simply something you would like to try? Come out to Turner Park Library’s Live Writing Workshop, hosted by Viga Boland, author of No Tears For My Father. Discover the poet, memoir-ist, blogger, or fiction-writer in YOU.

Is Writing On Your Mind?

This workshop is for all writers of all genres but, if you, like me, are caregiver to a child with FASD, then I know you have a lot to say. So, come to the session and write it out. It won’t hurt, and might even help. If you have not written anything before, then this is a great place to begin. It you write every day then you will have a lot to share. Either way, the session will offer interest and diversity.

I hope to see you there!

Where:  Turner Park Library, 352 Rymal Road East, Hamilton , ON L9B 1C2

When: Mondays, April 18th & April 25th

Time: 1:00 – 3:00 pm

Host: Viga Boland

To contact Viga for information, visit:


FASD: Changing Viewpoints

That Was Easy!

This is a long post, but anyone caring for an individual with FASD will find it encouraging!

FASD: Changing Viewpoints. 

I recently invited three friends to attend the Hamilton (Ontario) FASD Caregiver Support Group, hosted by Mark Courtepatte and Savanna Pietrantonio. The group meets on the last Saturday of each month, and is attended by caregivers and guardians of children and teens with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Its informal environment allows for the exchange of frustrations, references to services, discussions of prayers, hopes, and dreams for the children, the release of anxiety, and the reassurance that one is not alone in raising children with FASD.

On my invitation, my friends graciously agreed to attend. Though they knew little of FASD going in, when the session began, it took only minutes for their eyes to be opened to the realities of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and how it plays out for the majority of families. Here, in my friends’ own unedited words are their thoughts on how that group meeting affected them.

Heather… “Glad you could make it,” said Barbara, as I walked into the conference room and took a chair beside her.  Barbara had invited members of our writing group to attend her monthly group support meeting. It was my first time at an FASD meeting. I thought I knew what to expect. The room soon filled to the brim with parents, grandparents, and young teens. A family sat next to me; Mom, Dad and two daughters. The girls were loud, boisterous, and unsettled.  They twirled in the rotating chairs, bumping my chair as they fidgeted. They couldn’t sit still for more than a few minutes. When the meeting began, they giggled and talked to each other, instead of keeping a “respectful” silence.

Wow, I thought to myself, if these girls acted like this in church, or at a school play, or somewhere else, I would have ‘tut-tutted’ and been annoyed their parents didn’t discipline them. Maybe I would have thought they had ADHD. I may have assumed the girls had not been taught “civilized” manners by their parents. But because I knew their condition, I simply sat quietly and accepted them.  I didn’t know much, but I knew FASD children had behavioral issues.

However, I didn’t know those girls were jumping out of their skins in that conference room. I didn’t know that crowds, loud noises, changes to daily routines and strangers made it impossible for them to remain quiet. I didn’t know they left the room to get relief from the atmosphere they were in. I didn’t know it was a coping mechanism they used to keep themselves from unraveling. It seems I knew little to nothing about the behavioral issues of FASD children.

I soon learned how difficult the job of an FASD parent is. Discipline, I discovered, is the exact wrong thing to use. Yelling at a child with FASD increases the problem. Quiet reasoning, understanding and respect are required. Repetition is necessary to teach daily routines and consequences. Vigilance is needed to keep the children safe, because FASD kids lack the ability to fully understand the ramifications of their actions. I had no idea the strength and tenacity it takes to be a parent of one of these children.

“The mental healthcare system needs major training in the area of FASD treatment,” said the facilitator of the group. “Misdiagnosis is rampant. Doctors often lack the knowledge to differentiate FASD from ADHD, autism, and other conditions. Medications used to treat these other conditions are drastically wrong for kids with FASD. Changes are coming slowly as the medical field starts to understand what parents of FASD children have been saying for years.”

How was it possible that doctors knew little more than I did? And not only doctors! Teachers, caregivers, social workers and adoption agencies are woefully under-educated about this syndrome. The public, too, is drastically uninformed. Changes are coming in these areas, but once again, time is crawling by. Parents are left to lobby for funding and assistance, to educate the public and to support each other until the changes come. Parents and children of FASD have been suffering alone and misunderstood for decades, perhaps for centuries. I say centuries, because I also learned that FASD can manifest itself in a child across three generations. And the condition can come through the father or the mother. I had often misjudged mothers of FASD children. I thought I knew it all about those mothers. They must have drunk alcohol throughout their pregnancies. How could they be so careless, selfish and neglectful?

Well, guess what? Even one drink may be enough to cause FASD in an unborn child!  And that drink may have passed the lips of the mother or the father. I was astounded to learn that any of us on the earth could be affected, since it is certain that very few had parents, grandparents or great-grandparents who never imbibed a single glass of alcohol. No, I didn’t know much about FASD at all, until I attended that FASD support group. I listened in awe to the stories, challenges and advice discussed by those who are passionate about and affected by FASD. I learned a lot. But, the most important thing I learned is that it is so very easy to pass judgment while living in a world shrouded in ignorance.  It’s a lesson I won’t forget… Heather.

Viga… I recently attended an FASD group meeting that dispelled any illusions I had about the long-term, very harmful effects of drinking alcohol while pregnant. I was unfamiliar with FASD until I read Barbara Studham’s remarkable book, “Two Decades of Diapers”. What I read there both concerned and shocked me, especially since I have a teenage granddaughter who has always exhibited many characteristics of FASD children. As so many parents and doctors do, I had put her often-upsetting behaviours down to ADHD and/or Dyslexia.

After attending the FASD support group, my suspicions were confirmed: I learned that a mother, even having just one drink when she doesn’t yet know she’s pregnant runs the risk of having a child with FASD. Sadly, I now have to conclude that my dear granddaughter may indeed be an FASD child, not ADHD. At that meeting, if was further upsetting to learn from parents of FASD children that the medical profession is far from enlightened about FASD and prescribes meds for ADHD instead. This is unacceptable!

My friend, Barbara Studham’s books: Two Decades Of Diapers, and, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years, will shed much needed light on this issue. I highly recommend that groups interested in knowing more about FASD read Barbara’s books. This is a woman who has lived with what she now writes about to help others. Invite her to speak to your groups. The child you help may well be your own… Viga

Karen… My knowledge of FASD was very limited until I had the opportunity to visit a meeting of the Hamilton FASD support group. I learned that although most children with FASD ‘look normal’ they do have issues with attention span, behavior and authority. I also learned that there are various degrees of FASD and that all have been recently acknowledged under the umbrella of FASD. Some children with FASD are very bright and do well in school academically but are emotionally exhausted by the end of the day resulting in ‘melt downs’ at home. These children require a lot of ‘one-on-one’ sessions to understand and control their outbursts. Others are bullied because they don’t fit the norm and have learning difficulties.

It was interesting to see the working companion FASD dog in-training brought to the group by an attendee with FASD. This puppy was progressing so well that he diffused two melt-downs during the meeting. This dog had just returned with his trainer from an FASD conference where, we were told, he sat patiently through the full two days of meetings.

All the parents attending the support group appeared to be adoptive parents who were championing for these children. They are advocating for diagnostic testing, support to work with the children, and education of the public. This was relevant for me as I’m involved with a Youth Leadership Program and need to be aware of the possibilities affecting personalities… Karen.

Changing Viewpoints

From the above comments from my friends, you can imagine my delight at their learning so much about FASD from only one group meeting. This proves that getting information out on FASD is vital. So let’s get it in the medical community; schools; the workplace; on social media; in women’s group; community meetings, and anywhere else possible! Tell your friends, family, colleagues, and anyone else you know about the problems related to drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

If you would like more information on the Hamilton (Ontario) Caregiver Support Group, please visit this website:

Hamilton FASD Parent & Caregiver Support GroupWebsite: