Challenged Hope

Grandmother raising Grandchildren with FASD in Hamilton Ontario Canada

Strawberry and Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The front and back cover of ADVOCATE! created in support of FASD Awareness Day.

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FASD Awareness Day

September 9th — FASD Awareness Day

In support of International FASD Awareness Day, I have created a new book in the series, Strawberry & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome titled, ADVOCATE! 

Strawberry and Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The front and back cover of ADVOCATE! created in support of FASD Awareness Day.

The front and back cover of ADVOCATE! created in support of FASD Awareness Day. Strawberry and Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Strawberry and Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome live with their grandma. On International FASD Awareness Day, Grandma encourages the twins to advocate by sharing their FASD feelings. With her help, the twins write to everyday people in their community, those unfamiliar with the signs and symptoms of #FASD. In doing so, Strawberry and Cracker convey the challenges of FASD and garner support for all children with #FASD. Happy to be advocates for their cause, the twins share their feelings with a list of locals including a sour server at a local café, a lifeguard who needs a lesson in compassion, an unpleasant uncle, a shocked shopper, and a troubled teacher. Grandma cannot help shedding a tear of pride when the twins agree to advocate and share their feelings. This special International FASD Awareness Day edition is designed for children ages 5-12. 

ADVOCATE! is available from AMAZON at the following link

Just in time for FASD Awareness Day, ADVOCATE! is great for door prizes or giveaways at #FASDevents. Also, a great gift for those wanting to understand children’s FASD feelings, and for family and friends who need to acknowledge the life experiences of children with FASD. Your local community including schools and libraries will gain a better perspective of FASD from the letters that Strawberry & Cracker write to people who simply do not understand the disorder and will, perhaps, see themselves as equally ignorant of the subject. 

Also available in the Strawberry and Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, is THE SCHOOL DAY, and, FIDGET! Seen here at this link:

Barbara Studham’s bio:

For over twenty years, Barbara Studham has parented grandchildren diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Her two memoirs: Two Decades of Diapers, and, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, The Teen Years, describe her challenges during their toddler years and teens. She has also written fiction, including a six-book series titled, Under The Shanklin Sky, set in the seaside town of Shanklin, on the Isle of Wight. She is currently creating a children’s FASD picture book series Strawberry & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Now available in the series is, THE SCHOOL DAY, FIDGET! and ADVOCATE!

Barbara Studham’s books are available from AMAZON.

Author blog:

FASD blog:

Amazon Author Page:




I am writing a new book titled (tentative) FASD VOICES, as I want to bring the voices of individuals with FASD, their caregivers, siblings, caseworkers and anyone else involved with FASD, to the global forefront. I have written two FASD memoirs Two Decades of Diapers, and, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, The Teen Years. I also created the Strawberry & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, picture book series. 

The response so far regarding FASD VOICES has been positive and I hope to continue that momentum. So, if you are a person involved with FASD in any way, and would like your voice to be included in FASD VOICES, please use my contact page in the MENU bar and I will send you details. 

This book will make an excellent handout at FASD conferences, FASD presentations, to politicians, medical personnel, FASD caseworkers, teachers, etc., but it can’t be written without YOUR help. I need to hear your FASD experiences, challenges, struggles, hopes, prayers, positive and cherished moments of FASD, vents, needs, wishes, etc.  If you have an anecdote, comment, thought, idea, or any other voice you want heard, please contact me.

Pieces should be 50-500 words. Don’t worry if you have never written anything before. I want to keep it raw. Only your first initial of your name, and your province, state, county etc, will be shared. When complete, FASD VOICES will be available from Amazon. There is no pay-out to participants as all profits will go toward printing costs for books to be handed out at presentations. 




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Activities For Children with Disabilities

While we know “time for us” is important while raising disabled children, equally important is “time for them”. While raising my mentally disabled grandchildren, one of the resources I found extremely helpful was the Hamilton (ON) Culture and Recreation Program. Due to my financial limitations, the Recreation Fee Assistance Program enabled my grandchildren to swim for free, for one year, at any of the Hamilton-Wentworth Recreation Centres; plus, a choice between a free week of camp or registration in recreational programs, or day camp during PA days, to a maximum of $150 per child, per year. There is also the opportunity to apply for a 50% fee assistance for a City’s affiliated sports program to a maximum of $100 per child, per year. To qualify for the assistance program there are stipulations, so go to for full info on how to apply.

Another service is Hamilton and District Extend-A-Family which offers friendship programs and respite to challenged children and teens and their families. Extend-A-Family offers six programs that serve the special needs community:

  • The Buddy Program – An individual volunteer befriends a child with special needs to provide respite to the family by taking the child on outings
  • The Junior Buddy Program – A volunteer provides respite to the family by visiting the special needs child in their home or by accompanying the caregiver on outings
  • The Program Buddy Program – A volunteer will meet the special needs child at ASD/Recreation Program and engages the child during the event
  • The ASD/Recreation Program – Events are offered at least six times a month in the community and are planned and supervised by the ASD/Recreation Coordinator with the help of volunteers
  • The Host Program – A volunteer family befriends a child with special needs and takes them out of the home to provide respite for the parents and other siblings
  • The Summer Support Program – Summer Support Workers help to supervise group activities throughout the summer in addition to working with children one-on-one.

There is small membership fee, and the ASD/Recreation Program events sometimes require registration and fees. For information visit or call 905-383-2885. 

Other organizations include:

  •  Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hamilton and Burlington at is a mentoring organization for children and youth whose goal is to inspire and empower young people to reach their full potential. 
  • Mountain Kidz Klub, is an organization with the goal of providing a safe and welcoming environment to the youth of our community. Website
  • Local Scouts/Guides programs are worth checking out.
  • Boy/Girls Clubs of Hamilton  at
  • Hamilton Libraries also offer many programs for children and teens.
  • The “Y” which also offers fee assistance to those on limited income.
  • More organizations are listed in detail on the website of Inform Hamilton at

I also recently discovered ACCESS 2 ENTERTAINMENT card which provides free admission (or significant discount) for support persons accompanying a person with a disability at member movie theaters across Canada. The person with the disability pays regular admission. For more information call Easter Seals Canada at 416-932-8382, website:

Other Recreation Programs for Kids with Special Needs

Funding for Recreation Programs

Having posted all that, while all these activities are undoubtedly of great help to caregivers of challenged children, from my own experience the most difficult part for me was actually getting my grandchildren to agree to attend any program. All suffer from anxiety and poor social skills and to get them out the door to attend social activities was often a hair-pulling (mine) exasperating experience which invariably saw them running to the door, not in anticipation of having fun with a group of kids, but to escape being registered in something they preferred not to do. Oh boy, there goes my respite again!