Challenged Hope

Grandmother raising Grandchildren with FASD in Hamilton Ontario Canada


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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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Children with Complex Needs Partnership

One of the services available to caregivers of children with mental health issues is CCNP – Children with Complex Needs Partnership. As outlined on their website: http://www.lynwoodcharlton.ca this program …

“… addresses the needs of children and youth with complex needs including those with a dual diagnosis… The focus of the in-home Services is to provide intensive in-home support to families and their children/youth… The Case Management Service provides support for parents in coordinating services, navigating the service system, and in assisting with transitioning between services. Both services are available to families with children and youth between the ages of 0-18 with a complex mental health challenge, or with those with dual diagnosis…”

If you live in the Hamilton, ON, or surrounding area and want more information on CCNP, please visit http://www.lynwoodcharlton.ca or call CONTACT Hamilton at 905-570-8888, email: info@contacthamilton.ca.


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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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Raising Your Child’s Child

After almost two decades raising grandchildren with mental disabilities, I have become aware of the many challenges parents can face should they take custody of a grandchild. I have posted some of the challenges in the top menu bar of this website under the heading: Raising Your Child’s Child. If you are considering raising your grandchild, please read through the first Eight Chapters and in Chapter Nine discover the many questions you should be asking yourself and others before taking custody of your child’s child.

Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: What’s The Rush?
  • Chapter 2: Invincible or – Invisible?
  • Chapter 3: Grandson plus – Baggage?
  • Chapter 4: Oh, The Expense!
  • Chapter 5: Interests & Supports
  • Chapter 6: Grandchild with Mental Health Disorders
  • Chapter 7: So Many Appointments!
  • Chapter 8: Your Health & Aging
  • Chapter 9: Making an Informed Decision


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Council For Exceptional Children

  • Council For Exceptional Children, Hamilton-Wentworth Chapter 289, “Yes I Can” 2013 Awards

My youngest grandson who suffers with mental disabilities won an award. And I say that with pride because despite his struggles, and challenges caused by his disabilities, he was able to forge ahead and do something to benefit his community!

I attended the Award Ceremony with my grandson and his sister who, incidentally, looked beautiful wearing her graduation dress. There were hundreds of attendees at the program, all of whom enjoyed a delicious supper, but not before we watched, mostly on large screens around the banquet hall, students who suffer with mild or intense disabilities receive their awards and hear some very positive and encouraging personal remarks from the speaker. The looks on the children’s faces and the whoops of delight emanating from their families as each child‘s name was called, spoke volumes.

It was a very special evening. Not only because of the happiness experienced by the students, or the pride that was bursting from every caregiver in the room, nor the delicious dinner of pasta and chicken, or the awesome ice-cream dessert accompanied by steaming hot coffee, but rather because of the camaraderie between caregivers and their friends and families, teachers and other staff, and the students themselves. A camaraderie that was shared by mostly strangers who had come together to enjoy the simple pleasure of watching their children who are so often ignored, or even despised, by society receive an award for their achievements no matter how small they appear in the eyes of those who don’t understand mental illness.


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Kids Mental Health

With all the help from the Internet these days, you’d think it would be relatively easy to find pertinent information on the subject you are searching for. However that depends on two things: the phrasing of your search, and the reliability of the search engine to supply you with a list of web sites appropriate to that phrasing. One of my problems when browsing is trying to think of alternative phrasing when the first one didn’t bring up the results I had anticipated, yet you would think if I’m trying to find information on kid’s mental health, it wouldn’t take too much of a push to realize that typing the phrase – kid’s mental health – would lead me in the right direction! Hmm, why didn’t I think of that before? Too simple, I guess (the phrasing that is!).

But this realization didn’t dawn on me until I was in the corridor of a residential care unit waiting for a social worker to meet up with me and spied, pinned to the bulletin board, a flyer offering help to parents and caregivers of children with mental health problems. Their posted website is http://www.kidsmentalhealth.ca. When I spotted it, I could help but let out a quiet groan of exasperation over the absurdity of my not thinking of searching such an obvious phrase – but it happens.

If you are looking for information for your mentally disabled child in Ontario, kidsmentalhealth.ca is well worth a visit with information for parents and families, professionals, and children and youth. The reason I like this website is because it answers a lot of questions parents might have regarding the mental health of their children. As I’ve said before, in various posts, this is something vital for parents as when we suspect our child might be suffering from a mental disability it’s difficult to know where to start. The website offers direction through listing signs and disorders of mental disabilities, FAQ’s parents might have and answers to them, where to get help and what to expect from mental health services, plus much more. It’s the kind of website worthy of a sigh of relief at having found pertinent basic facts and appropriate help available regarding mental health issues. A definite thumbs-up in my book!

Another website definitely worth a mention is ementalhealth.ca/hamilton. Click Find Mental Health Help, then choose from the generous selection of mental health conditions and topics in the A-Z list. I selected Developmental, Intellectual Delay and Disabilities and many services, help and support for the Ontario region popped up. This website is just the kind of thing we caregivers raising disabled children benefit from.


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Sterilization?

As a young woman, I remember the controversy over the sterilization of the mentally disabled and recall how horrified I was at the thought that someone who thought they knew best could heartlessly take away the right of anyone to choose to be a parent – but that was long before I experienced the challenges I now face as a grandmother raising mentally disabled grandchildren.

In my post, My Story, I explain how my adopted, mentally disabled daughter gave birth to seven children by the time she was twenty-three, and how I was granted custody of four of those children, with the other three being adopted. Now, while I’m still horrified at the thought of any mentally disabled person being sterilized against their will, I’ve certainly softened towards what is known as substitute decision making on behalf of the mentally challenged.

I know this is a very sensitive subject, but believe it’s one that I shouldn’t omit on my website. To do so would be cowardly on my part, especially given my experience and circumstances surrounding mentally disabled children. So please bear with me as I struggle to voice my opinion without deliberately trying to invoke criticism. Although I do welcome any reader’s comments on this or other subjects!

You see, when my teenage unmarried daughter became pregnant with her first child, I truly believed it would be the one and only time; with her learning her lesson so to speak. But, soon after she had left home, I heard from the CAS that my daughter was pregnant with a second child. My heart sank at the news as I realized that her pregnancies were not going to end unless drastic steps were taken to persuade her to use birth control, and knowing her as I did, I suspected she wasn’t going to agree to that anytime soon, and so, by the age of twenty-three, she had given birth to seven children with each one being removed at birth due to her inability to parent. Sadly, all seven children are mentally disabled due, not only to genetics, but to her intake of alcohol and illegal drugs during the pregnancies.

So now, as a grandmother raising mentally challenged grandchildren, one of whom is a teenage granddaughter, I refuse to allow that whole unfortunate situation to repeat itself, and so, as a result, became a substitute decision maker for her regarding the birth control pill. How long she will agree to take it I’m not sure, but while she lives with me, I have made it compulsory that she continue doing so. If, at the age of eighteen, she decides to stop taking the pill that will be the day I decide whether I can continue to be her guardian, as, should the situation arise, I absolutely refuse to be a GREAT-grandmother raising GREAT-grandchildren!