Challenged Hope

Grandmother raising Grandchildren with FASD in Hamilton Ontario Canada

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Child and Adolescent Services of Hamilton, Ontario

According to the website, Child and Adolescent Services is an…

  • Outpatient Children’s Mental Health Centre funded by The Ministry of Children and Youth Services. Our staff includes Child and Youth Workers, Clinical Therapists, Psychometrists (specialists in psychological testing), Marriage and Family Therapists, a Psychological Associate and Social Workers. Together, we have a wide variety of skills and experience.
  • We offer family therapy, individual counselling, play therapy, psychotherapy, psychological testing and consultation to community agencies and facilities. Our Forensic Unit offers services for those in trouble with the law (assessments for fire setters, sex offenders, Young Offenders and post dispositional treatment for Young Offenders). We also offer specialized treatment services for trauma and dissociation.
  • The programs at Child and Adolescent Services are designed to meet the unique needs of our clients. Our staff start with the basic premise that all families have strengths and resources. Our goal is to identify these unique strengths and resources, and to support families who are working towards a positive future. We believe in the uniqueness of individuals and their right to discreet, confidential services.

We value each person as an important and unique individual as perceived by self and others.

  • The family is the natural place of the child while affirming the child’s need and right to interact with the community and to be safe in all environments.
  • Respect the rights of others to hold values and beliefs different from those we hold ourselves.
  • Treatment, research and prevention which utilizes several disciplines and partnerships within the community and beyond.
  • Good morale and the contributions of all staff and others involved with clients.
  • Child and Adolescent Services’ strategic involvement in the community (planning).
  • Clients have the right to be involved in planning their services and have rights to information where appropriate.

As a grandmother raising grandchildren with ADHD, FAS, Intellectual disabilities, and behavioural disorders, I am guilty of being overly confident of their ability to make sound choices, and of being naive about what the future might bring. For some strange reason, when I took custody of my grandchildren, I thought our future together would be bright despite the fact that their birth mother (my daughter), and their fathers suffered from equally or more severe disabilities as the children themselves, so when one of my grandchildren, on becoming a teen, began showing signs of being severely out of control, I put it down to adolescence when I should have been much more aware of the confusion disabled adolescents might suffer as they enter their teen years.

As a result of my grandchild’s actions, the police became involved and he was charged with criminal activity. We as a family were subsequently directed to Child and Adolescent Services of Hamilton, Ontario, for assessments and counselling. Now, I have to admit, after all the emotional turmoil I experienced when seeing my grandchild arrested, charged, and incarcerated, I wasn’t looking forward to being reminded how bad a parent I was by any counselor, so I’m pleased to report that the staff at the Child and Adolescent Centre couldn’t have been more understanding, which certainly took a load of unnecessary guilt off my mind. Fortunately, after a lengthy physiological assessment by C & A, the court decided that the my grandchild should not be placed in custody and was, instead, placed in foster care and assigned a probation officer.

If you live in the Hamilton-Wentworth area and feel you could benefit from the help of Child & Adolescent Services, please call Contact Hamilton at 905-570-8888 or go to and click on Public Health & Social Services, then choose Child & Adolescent Services from the list.

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A Sample of Financial Aid Available To Caregivers Of Disabled Children living in Ontario

If you are raising a disabled child, depending on your income and your child’s needs, you might qualify for various financial benefits. For example, my grandchildren all suffered incontinence for years, and in fact two still wear pull- ups at night, while one wears pull-ups both day and night for bowel and urine incontinence. This can be very expensive and, given my limited financial income, I was eligible for an Easter Seals Grant for their daytime (not night time) incontinence. An application to Easter Seals must be filled out and returned, then depending on your child’s needs you might qualify for funds to offset the cost of diapers. You will need to keep all incontinent supply sales receipts as Easter Seals will request to see them from time to time to prove your expense. Easter Seals can provide so much more for people with disabilities. To find out what is available go to

You might also qualify for ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) to offset costs of raising children whose needs are greater, and therefore more costly, than those of non-disabled children. An application has to be filed with the Ministry of Community and Social Services which determines your eligibility. Some items you can claim for are: extra loads of laundry re incontinence or soiled clothing; extra bed linen; clothing because of wear and tear; educational toys re development; night time pull-ups for incontinence; specialized camps and programs; etc. ODSP can also help adults with living and housing expenses, and offer employment supports. Your allocated worker will determine your needs and qualifications. See for more information.

Also available is DTC (Disability Tax Credit) and CDB (Child’s Disability Benefit) for children with severe disabilities. The CDB is a monthly benefit that the recipient receives along with the Child Tax Benefit. To apply for these benefits, a printable form (T2201) is available on the government website and needs to be completed by your doctor. See for more information.

To offset parents’ costs, there is a yearly recreation fee assistance available for recreation programs, or camp, plus a free annual swimming pass. See

For respite funding, see:


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Hamilton Health Sciences: McMaster Children’s Hospital

If, like me, you are raising a mentally challenged child, you might benefit from the various courses and workshops available to caregivers through the McMaster Children’s Hospital, Chedoke Site, and its community partners.

When my grandchildren were young and it was determined they had ADHD, FAS, and behaviour issues, I enrolled in several workshops over a period of approximately two years, sometimes taking two classes at a time. Not only did I find the programmes helpful by offering me strategies to use during challenging situations with my grandchildren, but they also made me aware of the struggles the children themselves face on a daily basis. And, of course, I met other caregivers in similar situations to mine and found their stories interesting while offering me the comfort that I was “not alone”. Please check out for information on the workshops and courses available. In addition to the programmes and workshops, there are resources available through the Family Resource Centre, located on the 1st floor of the Evel Building at the Chedoke site in Hamilton, Ontario. This provides a large number of reading materials along with other resources related to parenting and child development. Well worth the visit!

Update! One of my grandchildren just brought home from school the latest Guide from McMaster Children’s Hospital. It’s called Growing Together and offers many courses, some offered previously and some new. There are pre-natal programmes for young mothers, teens, and parents plus workshops and courses for parents/caregivers of children 6-8 years of age, such as: COPEing with Toddler Behaviour, Stuttering in the Young Child, 1-2-3 Magic, and the Incredible Years. There are also workshops and courses for parents/caregivers of children 6-12 years of age, such as: COPEing with ADHD, kNOw Fear, Temper Tamers, Managing Meltdowns, and a Lone Mother with Kids Recreation Program. The workshops and courses for parents/caregivers of teens 12-18 years of age offer Parent Support Workshops, COPEing with Teens. For children of any age there is an Autism Spectrum Disorder Presentation, a programme for The Quiet Child, and another for Parenting Your Anxious Child.

There are also workshops for the children and teens to attend like: Kids Klub, GRUB Club, Towards No Drug Abuse, and Teen Talk. There are also many adult programmes offered for Self-Help, Relationship and Marriage issues.

The above is just a sampling of courses offered, so if you would like to know more about the Growing Together programmes offered in Hamilton, Ontario, please visit or call 905-521-2100 extension 77243.

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Early Words, Hamilton, Ontario

Each of my mentally disabled grandchildren struggled with learning speech. Thankfully there is help and an initial trip to my family doctor regarding their difficulties pointed me in the direction of a program called Early Words which offers a Preschool language and Speech Program, an Infant Hearing Program, and The Blind – Low Vision Early Intervention Program. I learned I could directly refer the child for an assessment so I called Early Words and an initial home interview with a speech language pathologist was arranged and the child’s development discussed. From there the first step was a hearing test to determine if the child’s low speech development was caused by an inability to hear properly. When it was determined that hearing was not a problem I was advised to place the child in a therapeutic daycare setting to help them learn from other children. While in the daycare, the child was observed by a speech language pathologist from Early Words and as a result a program was implemented in the daycare to help the child with vocabulary.

My youngest grandson was also enrolled in a one-to-one six-week program with a speech therapist as his needs were greater than his siblings. The daycare environment helped my grandchildren not only with their speech, but also encouraged them to interact more positively with less aggression toward peers, and to learn to take instruction from authority. However, due to my financial limitations, I did have to apply for daycare subsidy, and discovered finding a daycare opening for each child an enormous hurdle. It took a lot of determination, much patience, a little aggression, and numerous phone calls to various daycare centers before locating a suitable opening.  It was during my eldest grandchild’s placement in daycare that I was encouraged to register for free parent/child workshops offered by Hamilton Health Sciences at various clinics throughout Hamilton, Ontario which offer strategies to parents of children with disabilities, delays, and aggressive behaviors.

Early Words is a preschool speech and language service and works with children up to six years of age. They have a very informative website at or phone (905) 381-2828. If you are interested in the parent/child workshops offered by Hamilton Health Sciences, browse the workshop guide at

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CONTACT HAMILTON, Hamilton, Ontario

CONTACT Hamilton, of Hamilton Ontario is an entry point for services for children, youth under 18 who have social, emotional, behavioural or psychiatric and/or development concerns, and for adults with developmental disabilities, and who live in Hamilton, Ontario.

According to their brochure…. CONTACT Hamilton provides:

  • Information about available services
  • Central intake and referral
  • Coordination of services
  • Planning for the children’s and developmental services systems

The brochure continues…Who Can Refer To CONTACT?

  • Anyone can contact us directly. This includes the person in need of services, a family member, school personnel, physician or community agency. A physician’s referral is not required.
  • There is no fee for Contact’s services. Contact Hamilton is funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

Over the past several years, while raising mentally disabled grandchildren, I have used this service many times to either register the children for services, or to gather information appropriate to their needs. While the staff are extremely helpful and the service does not necessarily require a visit to the CONTACT office for an interview, I found assessing my grandchildren’s behaviours via telephone interviews difficult as the focus is upon each child’s development and mental health. Plus, over the years, after having been acclimatized to my grandchildren’s challenging behaviours I might have unintentionally downplayed their problems. Upon the realization that this could possibly be causing my grandchildren to be exempted from programs they deserved and required, I learned to be more assertive  with my answers during phone interviews.

For more information on services, call CONTACT Hamilton at 905-570-8888