Challenged Hope

Grandmother raising Grandchildren with FASD in Hamilton Ontario Canada


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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:

http://www.twodecadesofdiapers.com.

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

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Upcoming Events

Watch for these upcoming events!

  • Upcoming Event: Sunday, March 13th 2016. 7:00-8:00 pm

I will be speaking about my memoirs and FASD on ARTWAVES: a live radio broadcast from Mohawk College. ARTWAVES is an arts interview radio program which airs live every Sunday, from 7-8 pm, at 101.5 FM. Google “l0l5 The Hawk” to listen to the program in real time, or listen to podcasts at archives.org/details/artwaves.

  • Upcoming Event: Thursday, March 24th 2016, 7:00-8:30 pm

I will be hosting an FASD event evening at Turner Park Library, Hamilton, Ontario. Speakers will include Mark Courtepatte and Savanna Petriano from Hamilton FASD Caregivers Support Group, and Tim Groenewegen, a special needs educator with the HWDSB. Together we hope to bring information, guidance, and support to those interested in learning about FASD, its symptoms, challenges, and services. Event is free.

Download my two memoirs for FREE from my website

http://www.twodecadesofdiapers.com

Two Decades Of Diapers

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years

Also see me on Youtube

Twitter: @barbarastudham

 


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Upcoming Events, not to be missed!

New Events!

Upcoming Events, not to be missed! The following events were posted by Mark and Savanna, co-founders of Hamilton FASD Parent & Caregiver Support Group.

Their contact info:

Upcoming Events, not to be missed!

Fascets Canada – Demystifying FASD and other Neurobehavioural Conditions

Special 2 Day Training for Professionals and Caregivers!

  • When: February 29th and March 1st, 2016
  • Where: Carmen’s Banquet Centre,  1520 Stone Church Road, Hamilton
  • Time: 8:30am to 4:30pm
  • Cost: $260.00 for both days  ($150 for parents & caregivers)
  • (Registration cost includes continental breakfast and full lunches on both days)
  • Registration Closes: February 12, 2016

Please see http://www.hamiltonfasdsupport.ca for more information.

Upcoming Events, not to be missed!

There is an FASD Conference in Sault St. Marie on Tuesday October 27Thursday October 29, 2015

Cost: $50 for the conference, includes lunch and refreshment breaks.  Note: Limited bursaries may be available for parents of/ or individuals living with FASD as well as graduates of AEI program. Maximum bursary amount: $500/ family.
Keynotes include:
  • Dr. Edward Riley, FASD- An Update on Recent Research and New Developments
  • Dr. Sterling Clarren– New Canadian Guildelines for Screening and Diagnosis
  • Dr. Lori Vitale Cox– Medicine Wheel Toolkit
  • Myles Himmelreich– What to Expect During a Full Body Diagnosis

Workshops and Sessions Include:

  • Seeing Through the Eyes of your Heart- Rebecca Martel & Jean Tait
  • Parent Child Assistance Program From a Rural Perspective- Tracey Knowlton
  • Heart Work, Long Ours Quilt- Cindy Peltier & Alison Trantor
  • Healing our Hearts, Accommodating our People- Richard Willier
  • ‘Cause It’s Still Not My Fault: Applying Best Practices for Students with FASD in the Classroom- Allan Mountford
  • Living Outside the Box- Tina Andrews
  • How to Communicate a Diagnosis of FASD to Children and Youth- Dr. Brenda Stade
  • Let’s Set the Stage- Debbie Michaud & Rhonda Konrad
  • Panel Discussion – Savanna along with RJ Formanek (FB FLying with Broken Wings), James Gideon and Matt Sinclair.

For information on any of the above events, please contact Mark & Savanna at:


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Event: Group for FASD Youth & Siblings

A very successful group for youths 10-20 years of age with FASD, and their siblings, has opened up in Hamilton, Ontario.

Founders, Mark Courtepatte and Savanna Pietrantonio had this to say—

“To the best of our knowledge, we believe that this is the first Youth & Sibling Support Group in Ontario … and possibly Canada, or the world!  There are a lot of groups that have the youth and siblings join with the parents and caregivers (as we do with our parent and caregiver support group), however we believe this is the first group solely focused on supporting youth with FASD and their non-FASD siblings.  It is just for them!”

Some of the goals set for the group:

  1. Providing an environment that will allow youths with FASD to feel comfortable, normal, and accepted. They will be with peers and other youth who share a strong commonality.
  2. Allow youth with FASD to make friends with peers more likely be more open and understanding.
  3. Help youth to learn and better understand FASD together.
  4. Have fun!

For more information on the FASD Youth and Sibling group in Hamilton, Ontario, please visit www.hamiltonfasdsupport.ca or email: Hamilton.FASD@gmail.com

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My memoir: Two Decades Of Diapers describes my twenty years raising grandchildren with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Available in paperback and ebook from:

Also available in ebook format from:


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Events

Event information received from:
Hamilton FASD Parent & Caregiver Support Group
eMail:      Hamilton.FASD@gmail.com
NEW WEBSITE!:  http://www.hamiltonfasdsupport.ca
Registration is required for all events

March 28th Parent conference – in Toronto hosted by FASD ONE at Toronto CAS.  The cost is $30.  Information on registering is on the flyer (see link below).  Pre-registration is required as space is limited.  Thanks to FASD ONE for this opportunity (and sincere thanks to the London FASD E.L.M.O. Support Group for the info reminder).  Click on following link for Registration form TO March 28th – FASD ONE

April 9 FASD 1 oh! 1 with Jeff Noble (FASD Forever) – full day training.  Location: Mississauga  Symphony Event Center  (FREE parking) Registration will begin at 8:30am.  Training will start at 9am and run until 4:30pm.  Cost: $75 for the full day training.  Registration info: http://www.eventbrite.ca/e/fasd-1oh1-tickets-15919361238  Maximum of 100 registrants available.

April 17 – RJ Formanek – Facebook Flying With Broken Wings FASD Support Group – is coming to the Hamilton FASD Parent & Caregiver Support Group.   The event is 7:00-9:00 pm at the Hamilton Mountain Police Station.  PLEASE CONFIRM IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO ATTEND AS SPACE IS LIMITED.  See attached for further details and information on the event!

April 7, 14, 21 – FASD Education and Training Part 1: Three Part Training Series:  Series 1:The Basics: Understanding FASD, Series 2: FASD Intervention Principles-Best Pracitces “What to do when…”, Series 3: Advocacy-Promoting School success and Transition to Adulthood.  ** Cost: free for caregivers (see flyers for cost for professionals).  SPACE IS LIMITED – Please Contact:  Brenda McBride, Catholic Family Services, Hamilton, ON.  Contact:  905-527-3823 ext. 259  or bmcbride@cfshw.com

PLEASE NOTE: THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED: April 21, 15 and May 5 – FASD Education and Training Part 2: FASD Next Steps: Three Part Training Series: Session 1: Grief and Loss, Session 2: Strategies and Interventions, Session 3: Transition to Adulthood  Note: to attend this training completion of Part 1 training is required.  ** Cost: free for caregivers (see flyers for cost for professionals).  SPACE IS LIMITED – Please Contact:  Brenda McBride, Catholic Family Services, Hamilton, ON  Contact: 905-527-3823 ext. 259  or bmcbride@cfshw.com


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What is Therapeutic Daycare?

When my grandchildren were small, due to their mental disabilities, my doctor recommended a Therapeutic Referral for Daycare. At first, I thought the word therapeutic related to their disabilities, as in – if they attend daycare everyday they will benefit from the repetitive schedule and interaction with peers. What I didn’t realize was that the word therapeutic referred to respite for me, in case I became overwhelmed while raising disabled kids and lashed out at them! I learned that mentally disabled children are deemed at-risk, which didn’t do much for my confidence as a parent! And for the longest while, when anyone in the medical field asked me what services the children were receiving, I would explain they were in therapeutic daycare, and wondered why it was always met with a blank expression!

I found a rather good webpage focused upon daycare in the Hamilton, Ontario district. This includes details on therapeutic daycare. It can be found at http://www.hamiltonhealthsciences.ca. In order for your child to attend therapeutic daycare, a referral has to be made by your family doctor, or public health nurse, or a social worker or pediatrician, or other social services or health agencies.

If you live in the Hamilton, Ontario area, and need to apply for a child care subsidy or to see if your child qualifies for therapeutic daycare call 905-546-4872, but be warned, the most difficult part of the undertaking, is not applying or qualifying for therapeutic daycare, but actually finding an opening for your child in a local daycare centre. I recall having to call at least seven day-cares before finding one that said they MIGHT have an opening within six months, after which the referral and subsidy grant lapses and you will have to begin the process all over again! The task can be frustrating and exhausting while trying to keep on top of the situation, which is strange when you remember that therapeutic daycare is intended to give the parent respite!


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A Heartfelt Plea to Teens Everywhere

For almost two decades I have been raising mentally disabled grandchildren, and while I love them dearly, the sacrifices I have had to make over those years have been challenging. When my adopted daughter, who is also disabled, was fifteen, she ran away from our home where she was greatly loved to be with a sixteen year-old boy with equally disabling challenges whom she thought she loved. The result of that union was a child, my first grandchild.

Their romance didn’t last and, when my daughter discovered she was pregnant, she asked to return home. That was the beginning of a great upheaval in my life which continues to this day, sixteen years later, as I now raise several of her children, all developmentally delayed and identified with various disabilities, these being: Intellectual Disability, ADHD, ODD, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, severe behaviour problems, anxiety disorders, and learning disabilities.

After the birth of her first child, my daughter left home again and went on to give birth to a total of seven children over the next eight years. Over the course of that time, I applied for custody of four of them with each one of my grandchildren being placed in my care when just a few weeks of age. The youngest being a cocaine baby whoexperienced the trauma of being delivered in a toilet at her mother’s home. After numerous court appearances, assessments, and interviews, I was granted sole custody of each child before they reached the age of two. They have three more siblings out there somewhere that my grandchildren are not aware exist and will in all likelihood never meet.

While it’s not my intention to lay guilt trips or blame on anyone, please read the following brief list of changes that raising grandchildren has made to my life and then learn how it could all so easily have been avoided.

From the day I discovered my fifteen year-old daughter was pregnant:

  • It seemed the whole neighbourhood discovered it too, causing nasty gossip and speculation as to who the father was.
  • At first, my daughter asked to raise her child at home, but I soon found myself forced into a decision to register her in a group home for pregnant teens when at eight and a half months pregnant she was hanging out on the downtown streets, drinking and getting high with friends.
  • Although I was myself a single mother raising three children of my own, after causing my family much distress by running away from home, my daughter, on learning she was pregnant, decided to come back home and have the child. As the father was, by that time, out of the picture I was naturally expected by the public health nurse to be my daughter’s coach during the delivery of my first grandchild.
  • While my daughter was registered in the group home I visited her daily and invested time in attending meetings around her, and her child’s, future.
  • Due to her decision to return home after giving birth, there was endless baby items to purchase. Naturally, due to her young age, this financial burden was placed upon my shoulders.
  • For the short time she returned home with her baby, she was visited weekly by a parents’ aide during which time I was expected to be supportive of her attempts to parent, despite her disabilities which invariably challenged both her ability and desire to be a mother, which led to my having to complete the parenting tasks myself.
  • When the few weeks she decided to parent came to an end, the CAS informed me that my daughter’s son would have to be placed in foster care. At the time, my daughter asked me to seek custody of my grandson.
  • When I informed the CAS I had decided to seek custody I was subject to an assessment, police check, regular visits to my home by a caseworker, a financial assessment by legal aid, and a consultation with a lawyer who put forth a plan of care on my behalf.
  • Within weeks, the child was placed in my care and my daughter left home again. While I parented her child she lived at various friend’s homes or on the street. During this time, she was held at knife point by one so-called friend.
  • A year later, I learned she was pregnant again by a different man.
  • By the time her first child was three and a half, she had given birth to another child who was ultimately adopted, and was pregnant with her third child of whom I took custody.
  • Less than one year later, her fourth child came along of whom I took custody, followed by her fifth child who was adopted out, followed by her sixth child of whom I took custody, until finally she had her seventh child who the CAS allowed her to keep.
  • Throughout this time I learned that all four children suffered with various disabilities and for the past sixteen years have been involved with their special needs 24/7.

It’s almost impossible to describe how emotional these past years have been, so I will simply close by encouraging sexually active TEENS everywhere to practice birth control. I cringe at the thought that all it would have taken to avoid my becoming a grandmother raising grandchildren was the use of birth control pills by my daughter, or condoms by the children’s fathers. Such a simple task overlooked by so many TEENS who honestly believe becoming a parent will not happen to them.

If you are a sexually active teen and live in Hamilton, Ontario, or the surrounding area and are looking for information on sexual health, there is a website that provides this information at http://www.hamilton.ca. Click Public Health and Social Services, and in the A-Z list click S for Sexual Health.

The website states it offers information on:

  • STD (sexually transmitted disease) Clinic
  • Anonymous HIV testing
  • Sexual Health Clinics
  • Street Health Clinic
  • The Van Needle Exchange Program
  • Sexual Health Information Line
  • Free Condoms in Hamilton If you click on the free condoms post you will find instructions on how to use either a male condom or a female condom, plus the locations where you can receive free condoms.

The website offers more Information including:

  • Age of Consent in Canada
  • Questions & Answers
  • Statistics in Hamilton
  • Fact sheets for Sexually Transmitted Diseases
  • Links and other websites
  • Mandatory Blood Testing Act 2006
  • Being Sexually Exploited – Find out what sexual exploitation is, and learn Online Safety Tips.

The Sexual Health Information Line for Hamilton is: 905-528-5894 (confidential, no call display)
Email: publichealth@hamilton.ca

A few years ago, while waiting in line at the doctor’s office reception to check in for my appointment, a girl of high-school age was waiting ahead of me and when it was her turn she leaned right in and whispered something to the receptionist, who promptly looked up and with a loud voice announced, “OH NO! YOU NEED A WALK-IN CLINIC. IF YOU ARE NOT A PATIENT HERE THE DOCTOR CAN’T SEE YOU!” with which the young lady turned on her heels and ran toward the exit.

I felt my heart sink. There was obviously something very important the young girl needed help with, but didn’t know where to go. I’m not saying it was her sexual health, but from her embarrassment when the receptionist decided to announce to the whole world that there was no room for her at the inn, it was pretty clear, to my mind anyway, that this young woman, who wasn’t with a parent, was looking for help for a very private matter. I think about her often, and wonder if she got the help she seemed so desperately to need.

So, if you are looking for a doctor in the Hamilton, Ontario area call the Hamilton Academy of Medicine at 905-528-1611 or go to http://www.hamiltondoctors.ca to find out which doctors in your area are accepting new patients. You will need to call the doctor’s office to set up an appointment before you go, and remember to take your health card.

If you are a minor male or female and are being sexually abused, call the Hamilton, Ontario police at 911; and the Children’s Aid Society at 905-522-1121, or after hours emergency at 905-522-8053 or the Catholic Children’s Aid Society at 905-525-2012, or after hours emergency at 905-522-5606.

If you are a male or female and in a sexually abusive relationship and need help getting out, call the Hamilton, Ontario police at 911. For females, also call SACHA sexual assault center at 905-525-4162, http://www.sacha.ca. If you are a male or female victim of rape, incest, or human trafficking, call Hamilton, Ontario police at 911.

If you are a minor who is being sexually abused and cannot speak to your caregivers about it, call the Hamilton, Ontario police at 911 and the Kids Help Line at 1-800-668-6868. The website is http://www.KidsHelpPhone.ca. Keep telling people until you are believed.