Affecting 3-5% of our population, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is the leading cause of developmental disability in Canada. Children with FASD often have their disabilities misunderstood due to limited knowledge and understanding of what FASD is. As a result, many children are still undiagnosed. After successfully receiving funding for the Invisible Disability Grant through the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation, Lutherwood has partnered with the community in the development of an integrated community system to better serve children and their families living with FASD in Waterloo Region.
Already we are making significant progress. In our region, over 80 health care professionals are engaged in learning more about FASD and have created a network for all sectors to assist one another in generating ideas to help families. Lutherwood and partner agencies have also developed an FASD Diagnostic Team to ensure more children have the opportunity to be assessed for FASD and receive accurate diagnosis.
To support parents and caregivers, Lutherwood has developed two programs to work one-on-one with the child and their caregiver.SuperFlex focuses on social thinking, communication and building positive relationships between the child and their caregiver, while REACH For It is a recreational program for children where they are paired with a volunteer who helps the child reach their full potential by creating positive experiences that will build self-confidence.
As an additional resource for parents, caregivers and community members, our Lutherwood Resource Team is offering drop in consultations twice a month for anyone who requires help in accessing resources or just needs someone to talk to and problem solve with.
With these positive developments in our community, life will be very different for children with FASD. Their symptoms will no longer remain undiagnosed and their disabilities will be understood by families, professionals and by a more aware community. Families now have access to resources that can assist them in developing stronger relationships with their child, which will allow them to foster more positive experiences for their child. This will reduce the child’s frustrations and allow them to have fun, see more positive outcomes and build their self-esteem.
More information can be found at www.fasdwaterlooregion.ca