Saturday, 22 April 2017

The Case for Compassion

I recently had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Kim Barthel and came away with so many thoughts and ideas it was hard to know where to begin.  However, the number one theme she focused on was compassion and that seems like a good place to begin.
The reason it is a good place to begin is because compassion enables us to see the real person.  I was reminded of this through a conversation I had with another person following the presentation.  They were talking to me about the fact the child they were working with is having a difficult time at school and they were asking for a Psych-Ed assessment to be done.  Through the conversation, I realized the child had experienced a lot of change and transitions recently.    As a result, I recommended that they focus on making the child feel safe and loved and wait on the Psy-Ed assessment for now.  It is utterly amazing to me how stress and anxiety can literally change a person.  I have seen student after student whose behaviour completely changes when they experience a large change or trauma in their life.  While we no longer should say love is enough, we should say love goes a long ways toward solving problems.
Why does love and compassion make such a difference?  It starts with an understanding of stress and anxiety.  We know stress and anxiety is a necessary part of our lives.  Stress motivates us and anxiety keeps us safe.  However, too much of stress or anxiety will overwhelm us and stop us from thinking clearly.  As a result, we lose the ability to problem solve.  Children in particular are more susceptible to this than adults.  The number one diagnosis of children today is generalized anxiety disorder recently passing ADHD.  Why is that?  Anxiety comes from high cortisol levels, a chemical our body produces when presented with a perceived danger.  The behaviour typically seen will be fight, flight or freeze.  A child may have an angry outburst or temper tantrum, get stubborn, say mean things meant to hurt, get physically aggressive and cause damage to property.  A child may also avoid, deny, always say everything is fine, constantly try to fix everything or agree with everything, run away, or focus on something.  However, the child may also daydream, refuse to do any work, obsess on something, become very quiet, cry, or just stare at something.  While these behaviours can be linked to several different reasons, the conversation becomes so important.  Any person, not just a child, will not naturally think to ask for help when they are overwhelmed with anxiety.  However, when we recognize this behaviour as a communication for help, we can literally become a lifesaver.
How do we do that?  It starts with compassion.  We must first realize children communicate differently than adults due to the difference in brain development.  Children are more attuned to reading faces than adults.  The first form of communication a baby develops is through reading its mother’s face.  Elementary children, in particular, still use facial expression as a primary means of communication with adults and other children.  The stare of over three seconds is considered to be the most threatening facial expression we have.  As a teacher, I am very cognizant of the fact that when I am speaking to a child, I will not tell them to look at me and then proceed to stare and talk.  If the child doesn’t want to look at me, I give them that option, but they must respond in some way whether by voice or body language.  The look of compassion has several aspects.  It is the head tilting to the right; chin and cheekbones slightly elevated; a lower, quieter deliberate voice; and hold the presence.  Holding the presence is such a key point.  We simply wait.  Not move, don’t speak, don’t get distracted, simply communicate “I am here for you.”  I joke that that I wish I could get through a day without a child crying on me, but when they know you are there for them, that anxiety release is something to behold.  What is so cool about compassion, though, it actually releases anxiety for both you and the child.  A stressed adult creates a stressed child.  A calm adult creates a calm child.

So the next time you feel like you are about to get into a shouting match with your child again, stop, take a deep breath, get yourself calm, and focus on how can you help your child through their challenge.  When they realize you do still love them no matter what they have done, you are laying the groundwork to be able to truly help them.  You will not be disappointed with the results.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Yet another FASD success story

I know I talk about my children a lot but I wanted to share what my middle daughter's boss thinks of her.

Cassie M testimonial

Monday, 13 March 2017

Letter to Michael Coteau and Sophie Kiwalla, MCYS

Michael Coteau, MPP
Ministry of Child and Youth Services
1200 Lawrence Ave. East, unit L02
Toronto, ON 
M3A 1C1

Dear Mr. Coteau,
            I would like to thank you for passing my earlier letter onto Marian Mlakar.  I found it very helpful having that direct phone call with her and getting some answers to my questions regarding the status on the Provincial Strategy for FASD.  Knowing that the strategy is now complete and is currently in the queue waiting for funding is certainly a great boost for my wife and I and our three children who have been diagnosed with FASD.
            However, to receive the news from Jeff Noble of FASDForever and Brian Tardif of Citizen Advocacy that while your office was interested in receiving information directly from them, it was discouraging to realize your office is still learning about this issue.
            Thus, I wanted to try and communicate to you and your office the impact FASD is having on our family and the province at large.
            FASD is a permanent brain injury with no cure.  It is defined as an invisible disability because to meet my children, you would not know what obstacles they are having to overcome.  Yet, their intelligence levels place them in the bottom 5% of the population and they can’t understand how certain actions will lead to certain consequences.  They can’t understand getting into a stranger’s vehicle is a bad idea.  Abstract concepts like good and bad, time, money, reading people’s emotions and being able to problem solve are all beyond their ability to understand.  However, with the proper supports in place, surrounded with the knowledge of what makes them unique, they can be and are being successful.  My three children can raise and show cattle, bake fantastic pastries and log a forest unbelievably well.  But they need my wife and I to help them through their anxiety, figure out the cost of things, and problem solve challenges.  You may recognize these challenges are extremely similar to the challenges people with autism face.
            To me, though, the biggest difference is in their life expectancy.  According to a study done by Thanh and Jonsson, the life expectancy of someone with FASD is 34 years of age.  The reason life expectancy is so low is because without support and education, someone with FASD has a propensity to poorer health, difficulty with maintaining healthy choices and care, mental health challenges, and poorer judgment which leads to these early demises.  When you consider there are currently 136,000 people in Ontario and 360,000 in Canada with FASD who will likely die in the prime of their lives and in the majority of cases leaving behind orphaned children, this truly is an epidemic.  When you consider the SARS epidemic of 2003 killed 44 Canadians, our residential schools with its 150,000 students and 6,000+ deaths and the largest epidemic in Canadian history, the Spanish Flu of 1918-9 killed 50,000 people, FASD truly is the worst epidemic in Canadian history.  And it is so preventable.  With proper clinics, community supports, system navigators and public advertising, we know this disability is manageable.
It is difficult for me to believe that your office has any larger or more pressing issue than getting funding for the Ontario FASD Strategy.  Please give it the consideration it deserves and make it a priority from this point on.  Thank you.
Rob More
Smiths Falls, ON

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Marian Mlakar, MCYS phone call

On Thursday, February 9, 2017, I had the opportunity to call Marian Mlakar, Director of Children and Youth at Risk department under the Policy Development and Program Design department.  She reports to ADM Jennifer Morris who reports to the Deputy Minister Nancy Matthews who reports to Parliamentary Assistant Sophie Kiwala who reports to Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services Ontario.  http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/about/orgchart.aspx  This phone call happened due to my follow-up letter questioning the status of our provincial strategy and Ms. Mlakar wanted to speak to me directly.
The phone call lasted about ten minutes and the following information was shared.
Ms. Mlakar stated the policy development and program design for FASD support is complete.  It is currently with the Minister who has placed it in the queue for provincial funding.  She also stated this project is her main project and is following it very closely.  She is hopeful that the province will be making an announcement soon regarding the project.  However, she also stated the province has several pressing issues and isn’t sure how high a priority FASD support is to the province.  She also made reference to the fact that the four people above her on the org chart are all new to their positions and that she is currently reminding them of the pressing need for this strategy.
She also stated the policy and program design is based entirely on the provincial report released in Sept 2015.  www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/.../fasd/FASD_Roundtable_Report.pdf
She also stated that they have seen a slight increase in public queries over the status of the strategy.  Finally, she stated once the program design has received funding, it will immediately begin to be implemented on a full scale across the province.
Because she is not an elected member of the Ministry nor in communications or public relations, she needed to be careful about what she could share with me.  However, it was very clear that the only thing holding up provincial support is a current lack of funding.  Combine that with the fact that the individuals who should be advocating for that funding are all new to their positions, it is very clear to me we need to continue contacting Michael Coteau, MP and Sophie Kiwala, Parliamentary Assistant of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance and Kathleen Wynne, Premier to make sure they understand how important it is that the FASD program receive funding now.

Rob More

Smiths Falls

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Thank you to all of you

I just want to put out a big thank you to everyone reading and commenting on these blogs.  We are out here in Lanark County trying to figure all of this out and it means a lot to us to know we are not alone.

We have received so much encouragement from you that you are giving us hope.

My wife has been meeting with folks and we are working toward helping create a support group out here and will certainly keep you updated on that.

By the way, you may notice there are no ads with this blog nor will there ever be.  I have no interest in making money from this.  If these blogs are helpful to you in informing others, I am meeting my objective.  If I plug another organization, it is because I found them helpful and suspect you will too.

Keep up the good work.  I have a couple other projects on the go right now so don't be surprised if you don't see anything for a couple weeks now.

Until later, Rob

How FASD Impacts Us All Canadian Family Article Mar 22

The following article is being published in http://www.canadianfamily.ca/ on March 22.

How FASD Impacts Us All
As I was watching the news coverage around Bell’s Let’s Talk campaign on mental illnesses, I was struck by the similarities between these invisible disabilities and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.  As a parent of a daughter with FASD and two other children on the 15 month wait list for diagnosis, our entire lives are centered by this disability.  Our 100-acre farm in the country, our children’s alternative schooling options, our work situations of special education teacher and employment counselor, our network of social services, and our extended family locations are all in place to help our children with their disabilities.  Without these supports, we know our children would not achieve the same level of success.
In a study done by Svetlana Popova and funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada, over 75% of people with FASD will struggle with the feel of things like clothing, receiving and expressing communication, noise sensitivities and hearing loss, and ADHD-like symptoms of hyperactivity, inattention, focus, anxiety and anger.  FASD also lowers life expectancy by 10 years. https://www.camh.ca/en/research/news_and...and.../Popova_etal2016Lancet.pdf  However, a small study done in Alberta placed life expectancy at 34 years due to at-risk behaviour associated with mental illnesses.  In a study of 80 birth mothers with children born with FASD done by Astley, 2000, it was found 96% of those mothers had a mental health disorder with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder being the most common.  However, according to the Alberta Clinical Recommendations, 1999, supportive counseling for mothers with a mental health disorder can reduce the risk of a FASD child by more than half.  FASD is listed as the number one preventable disability and one of the very few disabilities that can’t be passed from parent to child through genetics.  Finally, FASD impacts 300,000 people in Canada with approximately 70% of those people living in urban settings to the cost of 4-6 billion dollars per year through health, education, social services and justice systems.
But just like with mental health disorders, FASD is a manageable disability as demonstrated by our amazing children.  My oldest daughter is our animal whisperer.  Whether it is training the dog, the horses, the donkey, the cows, and the pigs, she can handle them all.  Through her high school, she is gaining her credits through workplace environments and at 17 years of age, she knows she does well in outside environments, doing manual labour, avoiding the public and helping animals.
Our middle daughter is the baker and babysitter.  With her unlimited optimism, ready smile, and patience galore, she also has found her niche.  We are so blessed to be able to come home from work and have supper ready to go.  We never are concerned about leaving the children because we know our middle daughter will keep her head. 
Our last child is our buddy.  He is the one who can watch me do something once and immediately copy it.  He is the one who built a table at the age of nine using his hammer, screwdrivers and saw.  He will go to the bush and chop down trees for hours. 
However, they also need supports and structure.  Every day of the week has a morning, afternoon, and evening routine.  They work at places that don’t ask them to problem solve.  They get their direction and they follow it.  They have technology that figures out money, time and locations for them.  They use their computers to read and write.  They have tools, strategies and medication to help them cope with anxiety, fear and anger.  They also have mentors that help them understand social cues and norms.  They all have quiet places they can go to relax, both at home and at school.  Finally, they have friends and family who are always ready to step in and listen.
While our children have FASD, it is not what defines them.  Just like anyone else, they have their strengths and needs.  And just like anyone with a mental illness, they know they can’t do it by themselves.  As our First Nations have said for centuries, it takes a community to raise a child.  We must always be ready to listen and help.  And when we see them succeed, we celebrate their success because we know and appreciate what they have accomplished.  And when they or anyone else in our community succeeds, it impacts us all.  If you would like to learn more on how you can help, please attend the 1st annual Eastern Ontario FASD Symposium March 31 and April 1 in Ottawa. https://www.citizenadvocacy.org/ourevents/first-annual-fasd-eastern-ontario-symposium/  


Not only being the father of three amazing children, Rob More is a special education teacher and writes a blog called http://giveusmorespecialneeds.blogspot.ca/  where he is sharing his conversations with the Ministry of Child and Youth Services and with his Member of Parliament about FASD.  He is also a regular contributor to https://www.facebook.com/CitizenAdvocacy site.  He will also be sharing his knowledge at the FASD Symposium in Ottawa as well and will be published in Focus on Adoption Fall issue. https://www.bcadoption.com/focus-adoption-magazine   He also runs a summer tech camp for special needs children. https://morehavenmakerspacecamp.blogspot.ca/

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Reply to Scott Reid, MP reply

Dear Mr. Reid,
As your staff continues its research on Bill C-235, I wanted to share this blog with you to assist on your research.

While most of us know drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, we are just now learning the impact FASD is having on our Canadian culture.  In the past two years, we have seen the Canadian Medical Association changed how FASD is diagnosed, the federal government voted and rejected a bill to allow judges to use FASD as a mitigating circumstance in sentencing, British Columbia and New Brunswick have established provincial strategies on how to prevent FASD and Ontario recently conducted preliminary research on FASD prevalence.
FASD is the number one preventable disability in Canada with over 300,000 diagnosed people with this disability including my three children.  However, due to the lack of clinics equipped to diagnose and the new diagnosing criteria, it is expected that number will rise significantly as this new criteria and clinics are implemented.  FASD is considered to be a permanent brain injury according to research by the National institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.  While it is not unusual for children with FASD to have normal intelligence, a high percentage of people with FASD will have ADHD or struggle with social interactions.  As a result, they will often act confused, immature, distracted, and impulsive.  FASD also impacts the person’s overall health according to a study done by Svetlana Popova and funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada. https://www.camh.ca/en/research/news_and...and.../Popova_etal2016Lancet.pdf  In this study, over 75% of people with FASD will have struggles with their senses particularly touch and hearing, expressing and receiving communication, and remaining focused and organized in their daily lives.
These characteristics will have huge impact on their lives and society because they won’t grow out of it, medication has a minor or damaging impact, and they tend to copy the culture around them.  We see its effect indirectly in all parts of our society.  According to the Canadian Family Physician Journal, it is estimated FASD is currently costing our country 4-6 billion dollars a year if the prevalence is truly 300,000 people.  This costing comes from health care, special education, social services and the justice system.  People with FASD require frequent health treatment due to anxiety, mental illness, sensory depravity, and ADHD.  They require high levels of support and equipment to successfully complete schooling.  They require social assistance due to mental illness, an inability to hold regular fulltime employment except in special circumstances, and life support people.  Finally, it is estimated 25% of our convicts currently have FASD.  Due to their inability to connect consequences with actions and communication challenges, people with FASD are extremely vulnerable to getting tricked or forced into committing the crime allowing the leader or planner deny involvement.  In a study done by Astley SJ, Bailey D, Talbot T, Clarren SK (2000), it found a direct correlation between abused women and FASD.  Finally, the Honourable Wally Oppal also found a correlation between FASD and missing women in his Missing Women Inquiry. 
But there is hope.  We know through education and proper social supports, FASD is a preventable disability.  As research continues on brain plasticity, there may be new treatments available.  Just like people with ADHD, when an external brain can be provided, a person with FASD can succeed.  It is also important to recognize it is not a genetic disability.  There is currently no evidence that a mother or father with FASD will pass it along to their children.  As long as the person doesn’t use drugs or alcohol or encourage its usage, their children will develop as normal.  As the general public continues to learn about this invisible disability and the importance of community, we can remove this stigma and truly make a difference.  To learn more, go to the FASD symposium in Ottawa March 31 and April 1 https://www.citizenadvocacy.org/ourevents/first-annual-fasd-eastern-ontario-symposium/ or go http://www.fasdontario.ca/cms/news-events/upcoming-events/ for other FASD events and research in Canada.

FASD Symposium in Ottawa March 31 and April 1

I just wanted to share this info along.  You may notice I am presenting Saturday on the Big I's:  IEP's, IPRC's and other Info.

Ottawa FASD Symposium March 31 - April 1
For the poster see:    https://www.facebook.com/FARP09092015/
Posted on Jan. 24, 2017


Registration is now open for the 1st Annual Eastern Ontario FASD Symposium titled "Successfully Supporting Invisible Disabilities" . For details and registration link, go to http://www.citizenadvocacy.org/events/symposium/

SUCCESSFULLY
Supporting Invisible Disabilities
For professionals and caregivers
1st Annual FASD Eastern Ontario Symposium

MORNING PLENARY SESSIONS WITH
KIM BARTEL, OT
International speaker on neurobiology
and sensory processing

"When Disabilities are INVISIBLE" March 31
"Compassionate Strategies for Change" April 1

Friday, March 31, 2017
& Saturday, April 1, 2017

The MET
2176 Prince of Wales Dr.
Nepean, ON K2E 0A1

Reply to Ms. Mlakar, MCYS

The following letter was sent to the following email addresses.
marian.mlakar@ontario.ca  
Monica.Trott@ontario.ca
Sarah.Lambert@ontario.ca
Mary.Mannella@ontario.ca
Bill.Matrakis@ontario.ca
jennifer.morris@ontario.ca
nancy.matthews@ontario.ca
skiwala.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
mcoteau.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org


                                                                                                                       Robert More
                                                                                                                      5150 Roger Stevens Dr.
                                                                                                                       Smiths Falls, ON K7A 4S6
                                                                                                                        robmore629@gmail.com
Marian Mlakar
Director of Children and Youth at Risk Branch
101 Bloor St. West 2nd floor
Toronto, ON M5S 2Z7
Dear Ms. Mlakar,
               Thank you for your expedited reply to my Dec. 23 letter on January 16.  I was extremely pleased to receive such an informative and heart-warming reply as was Nancy Lockwood of Citizen Advocacy in Ottawa.
               I am very excited to see you are the individual heading this important policy development on our provincial strategy for FASD.  Your presentation at the FASD One Symposium this past March was excellent and to know such an informed person is leading the charge is a real boost to our spirits.  And to know you have Ms. Mannella, Mrs. Trott and Mr. Matrakis from your Mental Health Programs Unit as well as Ms. Lambert from the Healthy Kids Initiative bringing all this together is wonderful.
               I do have a few items regarding your letter that I was hoping you could clarify.  Within your letter, you state in paragraph two following the release of the roundtable report, the MCYS “engaged” in dialogue with various parties to seek input on how to move forward.  I am assuming since you used the past tense that you have completed that dialogue and have now moved into the actual policy development phase.  I did reach out to my contacts in the Ottawa FASD Support Group, Citizen Advocacy in Ottawa, the Lanark/Leeds/Grenville FASD Working Group, canFASD, NeuroDevNet and Ontario Federation of Friendship Centres to see if any of them were aware of this dialogue that you completed since the roundtable report.  I didn’t get any affirmative replies; however, I recognize that is confidential information, and they may simply not be able to tell me. 
               As a former project manager for JDS Uniphase, it appears to me you are using the classic four stage approach to your strategy.  You have completed stage one with your initial research and preliminary report.  You have now moved to stage two where the policy development is now happening.  I assume stage three of initial implementation using pilot projects will be next and finally, stage four of universal implementation will follow.  While I recognize the data is still confidential, your estimated completion date for stage two should not be considered confidential.  When do you estimate stage two will be completed?
               As you may be aware, Citizen Advocacy Ottawa is hosting a national symposium on FASD this year on March 31 and April 1.  Our audience would find a current update on the status and time frame of our provincial strategy to be extremely valuable information and would serve as huge boost to all of us who are currently struggling with FASD or providing care for those who have FASD.
               Thank you for your time and work on this matter.  As I said before, it is wonderful to have such a champion in our corner in making a difference for our province regarding FASD.  I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,
Rob More

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Scott Reid's MP reply to Bill C-235

scott.reid@parl.gc.ca

12/21/16
to me
Dear Mr. More,

Thank you for contacting Mr. Reid. A member of his staff is looking into your question and will get back to you with an answer.

Sincerely,

Dennis L. Laurie
Legislative Assistant
Office of Scott Reid, M.P.
Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston
Critic for Democratic Institutions
Scott.Reid@parl.gc.ca
T: 613-947-2277
www.scottreid.ca
Like Scott on Facebook or follow him on Twitter

Michael Coteau reply from Ms. Mlakar MCYS


"Trott, Monica (MCYS)" <Monica.Trott@ontario.ca>,
"Lambert, Sarah (MCYS)" <Sarah.Lambert@ontario.ca>,
"Mannella, Mary (MCYS)" <Mary.Mannella@ontario.ca>,
"Matrakis, Bill (MCYS)" <Bill.Matrakis@ontario.ca>

Dear Mr. More,

Please find attached a reply to your letter regarding the status of the provincial approach to addressing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Thank you,

Sent on behalf of Marian Mlakar
Director
Children and Youth at Risk Branch
Ministry of Children and Youth Services

Ministry of Children and Youth Services

Policy Development and Program Design Division

Ministere  des  Services a
l'enfance et a la jeunesse
Division de !'elaboration des politiques et dela conception des programmes


Children and Youth at Risk Branch

101 Bloor Street West 2nd Floor
Toronto ON M5S 227 Phone: (416) 327-0115
Fax:     (416) 212-2021



January 16, 2017

Direction des enfants et des jeunes  a risque
101,rue Bloor Ouest 2° etage
Toronto ON  M5S 227
Tel. :(416) 327-0115
Telec. : (416) 212-2021

f"):-:.
f
 
> 
 
I/Jr   Ontario



Robert More
5150 Roger Stevens Dr. Smith Falls, ON
K7A 4S6
robmore629@gmail.com Dear Mr. More,
Thank you for your letter concerning the status of the development of a provincial approach to addressing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASO). Your letter has been forwarded to me, and I appreciate the opportunity to respond and provide you with an update on the work currently underway in Ontario to address the impact of FASO on individuals and families.

Ontario is committed to improving outcomes for people living with FASO through the development of a provincial approach to FASO. Building on a province-wide engagement in 2014, and the release of the former Parliamentary Assistant's roundtable report, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) engaged in dialogue with other government ministries, service providers, families and caregivers, individuals affected by FASO, researchers and clinicians, Indigenous partners, and others to seek input on how to move forward on a provincial approach to FASO.

Our current priorities for the provincial approach focus on:
             Awareness and prevention;
             Screening, assessment and diagnosis;
              Programs and services;
             Support for families and caregivers; and
              Data collection and performance measurement.

Through work on these priority areas, MCYS' goal is to develop a better understanding of the prevalence of FASO, as well as the financial impact of the disorder, as outlined in

your letter. As you point out, MCYS recognizes that many reports have indicated that individuals diagnosed with FASO have a disproportionately high representation in the justice system, and through the provincial approach to FASO, MCYS is working to better understand the impact of the disorder on children and youth in Ontario.

MCYS is currently in the developmental phase of this work. Information on the provincial approach to FASO will be communicated publically as it becomes available. I invite you to continue to check MCYS's website for updates on the province's work on FASO at: www.children   .gov.on.ca/htdocs/Engl  ish/topics/specialneeds/fasd/index.aspx.

Thank you for your commitment to improving the lives of individuals with FASO in Ontario.

Sincerely,
pJd
Director
Children and Youth at Risk Branch

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Managing ADHD published in Canadian Family Feb. 22

The following article was published in Canadian Family.  Managing ADHD

My 9-year-old son had been struggling with making friends, completing his school work, and getting angry at every small thing.  He was arguing with us constantly.  Shelley, my wife, and I kept thinking, “It’s fine, it is just a phase he is going through. He will grow out of it.”  But when he started throwing things and getting into fights at school, we knew we needed to find some solutions.
We started by getting a referral to a pediatrician who focuses on special needs and having regular conversations with his resource teacher at school.  Through that, we got a diagnosis of ADHD-Oppositional Defiance Disorder.  Shelley and I were so relieved.  We couldn’t understand why he was always angry.  We thought we were doing a good job raising him, but he was starting to become the boy all the neighbors talk about.  However, with this diagnosis, we could proceed with solutions.
We started with Mental Health Canada (1) and read that recent studies have been focusing on the link between ADHD and frontal lobe development.  I already knew based on Dr. Thomas E. Brown’s research (2) that ADHD impairs executive functioning skills which comes from the frontal lobe.  This means he is going to struggle with organizing himself, regulating his emotions and actions, sustaining focus and effort, recalling information, or dealing with change.  We also read further that the best type of treatment is the combined form of behavioural treatment and medication.  This made a lot of sense to me. I have certainly seen when students with ADHD have routines and strategies combined with the proper medication, sleep and a good diet, they do all right.
The first thing we did was focus on behaviour.  We asked his resource teacher at school to start documenting every time he lost his temper and record when, where and what happened leading up to it.  We also kept a journal at home documenting the same thing.  We quickly discovered after a couple weeks of doing this, there were really only three things that were causing the difficulties.  We found out it happened more as the day went along, when he was touched, and in louder, less controlled environments.  So the occupational therapist got involved and figured out what he needed.  We started with a Hokki stool and weighted blanket for home and a rubber cushion and squeeze toys for school from fdmt.ca.  He also lines up last to go outside or to come back to the class to avoid being touched or bumped.  He also has the option of a timed 5-minute break throughout the day when he needs quiet.  Finally, his school team and we talk once a month to see how things are going for him.
At the same time, we started putting in strategies at home.  As soon as he comes home from school, he isolates himself for an hour doing something active like biking or skateboarding in the lane, jumping on the trampoline or hanging out with his best friend from across the road.  We then have a set routine of supper, chores, homework, quiet time and bed time.  We are very conscious of his diet and hydration, but the biggest factor is sleep.  He gets 11 hours of sleep on weekdays and anything less than that creates struggles for him.  He also takes 3mg of melatonin every night 30 minutes before bedtime.
Finally, with his pediatrician, we started experimenting with medication.  We knew it is only by trial and error that you find the right type of medication and dosage.  Because our son is also diagnosed with FASD, his body chemistry is unique, and it has been an ongoing process to find the right medication.  He is currently taking 20mg of biphentin, but we know every child is different when it comes to ADHD medication.  The two big things we have learned is one, be consistent in administering it.  He needs it every single day.  Second, just like sleep and routines, medication helps him manage it, not cure it.
Since putting these supports in place, my son has experienced a huge change.  He loves school, has several good friends, laughing all the time, and just having fun with life.  His teachers have seen that same change and are talking now about how much they enjoy having him in class.  While we know he may be dealing with this his whole life, we also know where the solutions lie now.  And that gives all of us hope.

Rob More is the adoptive father of three wonderful children and has over 20 years experience as a special education teacher.  He also serves as a FASD advocate.  

Ontario FASD strategy to Michal Coteau, MPP, published in EMC on March 3

Dear Mr. Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth ServicesInside Ottawa Valley
               I am writing in regards to the status of Ontario’s strategy for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.  Parliamentary Assistant Granville Anderson wrote a report to the Minister of Youth and Children Services which was released to the public in September 2015 http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/documents/specialneeds/fasd/FASD_Roundtable_Report.pdf.  It has now been 17 months since its publication and your ministry website states the FASD strategy is currently under construction and will be announced soon.  However, it has said that for over 12 months now.
               As I would hope you are aware, FASD has had a major impact on our province for decades and the need for Ontario to tackle this crippling issue has never been higher.  Within the report, it is stated that FASD costs Canada about 2-6 billion dollars a year.  When you consider Ontario’s population is 38.5% of Canada, it can be assumed FASD costs Ontario 1 to 2 billion dollars a year.  And as Mr. Anderson stated in the second paragraph of the report in bold print, “What makes the issue of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder worthy of our commitment is we know that with the right information, programs, services and supports, FASD is preventable. “ When you consider that our current budget for education is 25 billion, special education is 2.75 billion a year and health is 50 billion a year, does it not make sense to give FASD the priority it deserves? 
               We know the prevalence for FASD is high due to the lack of education on this issue.  However, information is limited due to a lack of programming, services and supports.  All of this requires a coordinated and comprehensive strategy which this report explains in great detail.  It is interesting that BC, Alberta, Manitoba, and now New Brunswick have already developed their own strategies which Ontario can use as well.  We do know that it is 28 more times likely that an inmate will have FASD compared to the general population, that special education prevalence is on the rise, and that our northern communities are struggling to deal with this issue.  We can’t afford to wait any longer to tackle this preventable issue.  I find it troubling that this issue doesn’t seem to have much priority for you.  As we continue to struggle with our debt, our sluggish economy, our rising hydro costs, increased crime rates and our medical wait times, FASD continues to increase our debt, raise our unemployment, lower our housing requirements, populate our prisons, and increase our medical needs to the cost of 2 billion dollars a year.  I challenge you to find a costlier issue for our children and youth.  Finally, when you consider that alcohol-related issues are the fifth deadliest reason in the world, the FASD strategy should be your number one priority as we approach this 2018 election.  I look forward to your reply as to the status of Ontario’s FASD strategy and its implemented timeline.
Robert More

Smiths Falls, ON

FASD resolutions

The following article is being shared with anyone who is impacted by FASD, mental illness, or a disability.   Even though we all have unique situations, hopefully, some of these resolutions will strike a chord.  The following resolutions were shared with me by a young adult diagnosed with FASD.
This year,
1)     I resolve to remember to put things away and not leave them at the job site or lying around the house.
2)     I resolve to listen to my watch and when it beeps, go to work, take my break, and go home.
3)     I resolve to let my manager handle my money and live on my allowance.
4)     I resolve to take my anxiety pills and melatonin every night so I don’t have nightmares.
5)     I resolve to thank my coworkers, support team, family and friends for sticking with me no matter what.
6)     I resolve to try and fight the urge to run when I get put on the spot.
7)     I resolve to try and handle the constant anger that I feel.
8)     I resolve to talk to someone when things get bad.
9)     I resolve to remember the police are my friends especially if I am running away.
10)  I resolve not to use social media, alcohol, drugs, gambling, hitchhiking or cigarettes to deal with my anxiety or anger.
11)  I resolve to remember that structure and boundaries are good things.
12)  I resolve to remember when my horse is acting up, it is probably me struggling.
13)  I resolve to remember freedom does exist within the fenced paddock.
14)  I resolve to remember I do have a lot of strengths and have accomplished a lot of good things.
15)  I resolve to stop for five seconds and think when someone suggests doing something.
16)  I resolve to stick with the friends who watch out for me.
17)  I resolve to keep writing and drawing every night.
18)  I resolve to read my journal once a month and realize things are getting better.
19)  I resolve to have the courage to say I know I need help.
20)  Finally, I resolve to believe this year will be the best year I have ever had.
SCJ
And let me add, I resolve to help support SCJ accomplish these resolutions to the best of my ability.

Rob More