Caregivers’ Perspectives on Building Strengths and Abilities in FASD

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This year our theme for FASD Awareness Month is Building Strengths and Abilities. Historically, the conversation around FASD has been focused on challenges. However, it is equally important to focus on strengths.  

We’ve asked members of our Network to weigh in on this topic and we will be sharing their answers throughout the month. Today you’ll hear from members of our Family Advisory Committee who care for someone with FASD. In their own words, they share why recognizing and celebrating strengths is so important and talk about some of their recent successes.  

Why do you think it is important to celebrate strengths and abilities?    

“There are so many negatives when it comes to FASD as what most see in behavior.  My children that have a dignosis of FASD have many strengths and like anyone else, they need to be supported and celebrated.” 

Tammy Roberts, Co-Chair of the Family Advisory Committee 

“For too long the FASD narrative has been one of deficits and challenges, ignoring the strengths and abilities of individuals with FASD.  This has increased the stigma associated with FASD which, in turn, encourages denial.  Denial of impact of prenatal alcohol exposure or increasing shame and blame on women can lead to individuals not acknowledging alcohol consumption or seeking diagnosis.  Without identifying FASD, appropriate supports can not be put in place to help the individual succeed.  Without appropriate supports, adverse outcomes are more likely thus leading to more focus on deficits.  We need to break that cycle.  We can do that by looking at the whole picture, the whole person.  It is time to open our eyes and see that people with FASD are like everyone else with gifts, talents and strengths.” 

Dorothy Reid, Co-Chair of the Family Advisory Committee  

What are some common strengths you see within the FASD community?    

“We are all really patient, stubborn, and extremely flexible.” 

Tammy Roberts, Co-Chair of the Family Advisory Committee  

“Generosity, friendliness, acceptance, humor, perseverance.  Myles Himmelreich sums it up when he refers to FASD as Faith, Ability, Strength and Determination.” 

Dorothy Reid, Co-Chair of the Family Advisory Committee 

What are some recent successes you’ve experienced?  

“My adult son (who is 26) is now working in a position that supports teens with FASD and he is doing the CanFASD training in his role.  He is learning so much about himself! I can see the positive impact that it is having on his life and how it is opening up conversations between us as well!” 

Tammy Roberts, Co-Chair of the Family Advisory Committee 


“I have four beautiful great grandchildren all being raised by their biological family members.”   

Dorothy Reid, Co-Chair of the Family Advisory Committee 

What changes do you hope to see in the future? 

“I am hoping that our elected officials will support the diagnosis and interventions for people with prenatal alcohol exposure regardless of where they live in Canada.  Currently your ability to access diagnostic and support services is dependent upon where you live and even in the most advanced provinces and territories, is insufficient to meet the needs of people suspected of having FASD.  This is a costly decision both in terms of long term costs but in human lives.  A first step is working with provinces, territories, field experts, individuals with FASD and caregivers of individuals with FASD to develop a National FASD Strategy with a funding structure and accountability included.” 

Dorothy Reid, Co-Chair of the Family Advisory Committee 

How are you celebrating FASD Month?  

Our Family Advisory Committee advocates fiercely for FASD within their communities as well as nationally. Here are some of the things they are doing (or have done) to celebrate FASD Awareness Month!  

  • Rocking their red shoes 
  • Hosting a community BBQ  
  • Running a community scavenger hunt for youth that shares FASD facts  
  • Raising awareness by advertising within their communities and distributing awareness posters 
  • Checking out the landmarks being lit up red for FASD Day 
  • Attending FASD Awareness walks in their communities 

Learn More  

You can learn more about the experiences of caregivers who support loved ones with FASD by checking out some of the resources below. You can also share your own experiences by participating in our C.A.R.E. (Caregiver Approaches, Resiliencies, and Experiences) study 

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