Student Spotlight: Harrison Grogan (University of Manitoba)

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We are pleased to introduce our first ever Student Spotlight: Harrison Grogan. Our Student Spotlight aims to highlight the unique research going on in the field of FASD by student researchers across the country!


Harrison Grogan

Harrison is a third year undergraduate student in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba. He began working in the field of FASD as a Research Assistant under the supervision of Dr. Ana Hanlon-Dearman at the Manitoba FASD Centre.

A Health Diary for Caregivers of Children Ages 6-13 with FASD

Written by: Harrison Grogan & Dr. Hanlon-Dearman

FASD is complicated – parents know that with FASD, “every day is an adventure”. One person diagnosed with FASD can have a completely different selection of strengths and weaknesses compared to another person. These differences relate to the 10 brain domains which act as guidelines for diagnosing FASD. To obtain a diagnosis, a person must have severe impairments designated by a formal assessment in 3 or more of the 10 brain domains in addition to alcohol exposure in pregnancy. For example, this means that one person with FASD could have severely impaired language, motor skills, and cognition, but another could have impaired memory, attention, and executive functioning. Both of these people have FASD, but their strengths and weaknesses would differ greatly.

But why is this important to know? While many health professionals, teachers, and law enforcement already understand the complexity of FASD, many also do not. Oftentimes, an individual will determine that FASD is exclusively an intellectual or motor disability from personal anecdotes or popular culture. These assumptions can lead to the generalization of the needs and strengths of people with FASD. This generalization of ability can then cause unessential care from health professionals, inappropriate accommodations from teachers, and severe misunderstandings from law enforcement.

A new research study is looking to provide a bridge that caregivers of children with FASD can use to demonstrate their child’s unique strengths and weaknesses to people like teachers and law enforcement in order to prevent these consequences. The study employs a “health diary” which contains questions relating to each of the brain domains. Participants respond daily for two weeks in order to complete the health diary. Once completed, a recommendation section translates the responses into strengths and weaknesses for the child. This section can then be brought as tangible evidence to those in contact with the child in order to demonstrate what accommodations he or she may need.

While this solution may work well for now, what must happen is an increase in the education of FASD in many facets of society, particularly in schooling and youth justice. This study is hopefully one step towards this increase in education of FASD.

Interested in more from the Manitoba FASD Centre? Another study entitled “Promoting Positive Attachment in Families with Young Children with FASD” is focusing on improving caregiver-child attachment behaviors while collaborating with Family Services. It aims to provide an evidence based intervention to families needing support in caring for their child with FASD.

If you would like more information about this study, or have questions for the researchers, please contact Harrison at or Dr. Dearman at

Are you interested in having your research, or the research of one of your students, featured? Please send us a note through the contact page on the blog or email Kelly Coons ( or Marnie Makela ( for more information.

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