Challenged Hope

Grandmother raising Grandchildren with FASD in Hamilton Ontario Canada


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What is an Intellectual Disability?

Just this year, all three of my mentally disabled grandchildren have undergone Psycho-educational testing with a result of two of them being diagnosed with an Intellectual Disability, and the third with a specific learning disability. This diagnoses means that the children are likely to learn and develop significantly more slowly than other children of the same age.

According to Community Living Ontario, at communitylivingontario.ca, an Intellectual Disability is:…a disability that significantly affects one’s ability to learn and use information. It is a disability that is present during childhood and continues throughout one’s life.  A person who has an intellectual disability is capable of participating effectively in all aspects of daily life, but sometimes requires more assistance than others in learning a task, adapting to changes in tasks and routines, and addressing the many barriers to participation that result from the complexity of our society.

When the Psychological Report was compiled and a diagnosis made, many aspects of my grandchildren’s lives and abilities were taken into consideration, i.e.,

  • Reason For Referral (in their case to review their learning strengths and needs for programme planning)
  • Background Information
  • Observations during the assessment
  • Document Reviews of previous assessments and school reports
  • Interviews with the child and myself
  • Assessment Measures which include professional Developmental Tests
  • Behaviour Testing
  • Memory and Learning Testing
  • Individual Achievement Testing

For my grandchildren, I suspect, the testing felt long and arduous as it was completed over several appointments, but each one managed to complete the task, and as a result the older two were placed in a specialized school program for children with learning disabilities. See posts: What is Specialized School Programming? and What is Specialized School Programming: High School?

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Hamilton Arson Prevention Program for Children (HAPP-C program)

Over the years, I’ve come to recognize when my grandchildren become overly anxious about a home or school situation, their disabilities (ADHD, FAS, Intellectual Disability) cause them to do, not really strange, but certainly unrelated things like… oh, I don’t know, setting fire to the house for example.

When two of my grandchildren recently learned their younger sibling would be entering a residential care facility for several months in order to learn behaviour management, they instantly withdrew into anxiety mode, with one setting fire to objects and bedding in her room, and the other building a fire behind a dumpster at a local school.

Over the years, because I have become acclimatized to their strange ways to the point of deeming them normal, I didn’t recognize the severity of this behaviour until I nonchalantly passed the information by one of their caseworkers and noticed the horrified expression on her face.

On her advice, I subsequently called the program coordinator of the Hamilton Wentworth Fire Department’s Youth Program who scheduled an appointment with me and the children and had them answer questions about fire safety, and then spoke to them on the hazards of fire-setting.

About two weeks later, the children attended a meeting at the Child and Adolescent Services of Hamilton, Ontario (see post: Child and Adolescent Services of Hamilton, Ontario) for a fire-risk assessment, where they were assigned separate counsellors who interviewed them and then rated their risk of re-offending. This information was subseqently passed on to the children’s school so the staff could be aware of the possibility of one of the children starting a fire at school, and to the various caseworkers involved with the children.

 If you would like information regarding the Hamilton-Wentworth Fire Department Program, please call: (905) 546-2424 ext. 7794 or (905) 546-2424 ext. 1380