Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Local FASD Developments

One thing I have learned over the years is everything grows from your foundation.  Priority number one for me is always God, Shelley and me followed very closely by my kids.  Next, if the family is good and strong, then look outward.  Our friends and colleagues come next.  Depending on life and energy levels, we might start working on our community and finally our province.  I say constantly we are blessed tens times over which is why we can serve as a voice for those in our community and province who can't move past providing for their family.  However, this is why we need others, not living or caring for those with FASD, speaking for us.

This past week, in Lanark, Leeds-Grenville, I saw three examples of others speaking for us.  The Leeds-Grenville County Council passed a resolution stating Sept. 9 as official FASD Awareness Day in Leeds-Grenville with unanimous assent.  We also received wonderful advice and additional invitations to present our information throughout the County.  To meet so many individuals in one place who get this and want to help was a real highlight this week.

The second example is the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario has successfully established a multi-disciplinary assessment team.  They have just hired their own occupational therapist, well-versed in sensory needs and FASD to join with an existing educational psychologist, a behavioural psychologist,  and speech-language pathologists.  Previously, they had to use the local LHIN OT's who were not readily available.  This OT's mandate is to build capacity, help with assessment and programming for students with FASD, trauma and complex special needs.  While our school board won't be able to diagnosis, they will be able to support in every possible way.

Finally, I read in our local paper on page 10 an article summarizing our local policing efforts.  They made a brief mention about the fact our local OPP detachment has hired a mental health nurse to join their staff.  This hiring marks the evolution of mental health awareness in this area.  Years ago, our OPP detachment would incarcerate individuals with mental health challenges.  They changed their policy to taking them to the emergency ward but was finding the hospitals weren't equipped to deal with these individuals.  As a result, the local detachment and the local Mental Health organization entered into a partnership.  They just completed a pilot project where they do an immediate intake with a mental health nurse.  They are so pleased with the results, the local detachment has now hired their own person.  This action reflects a belief that we need to be working with individuals who make poor decisions.  We provide guidance and support, not punishment.  This is the belief that we want everyone to have regarding individuals living with FASD.  This action is also going to lead to more individuals living with undiagnosed FASD getting the proper support.

Within your networking, do not forget your local police.  They tend to be our first responders when things get off the rails and our partners in crisis situations.  When you add in our County Council and our School Board, once again, I am utterly amazed at the level of support I keep finding in my local community.  It is great to know as we continue to build capacity and awareness, we do have wonderful partners behind us providing the support.

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