Celebrating Strengths in FASD this Neurodiversity Week

Its Neurodiversity Celebration Week! We had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Katy Flannigan to talk about a new study we’re doing on strengths in adults with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Here are a few highlights from that conversation.

What do you mean when you’re talking about “strengths”? How would you define it?  

Oh, good question, very good question…In one of the studies that we did a couple of years ago, we actually defined strengths in this context as ‘a person’s talents, abilities, or characteristics that can be leveraged to promote their wellbeing and quality of life.

What do we know about strengths with people with FASD? Has any research been done before this strengths project?  

A little bit, for sure. So in 2018 I think it was we, CanFASD, decided to do a literature review to figure out that exact question… we did a search of all the FASD articles that have ever been published and we found 19 studies that included some data on strengths… We kind of wanted to pick apart these studies to figure out exactly how researchers are looking at strengths in FASD. We found that almost none were specifically focused on it… It was more often tangential findings, so it was in the greater context of challenges and difficulties…

After that lit review there were maybe a handful of studies that have been published in the last five years that were specifically focused on strengths, so… we’re not the only FASD researchers having this conversation and wanting to shift this momentum.

So what’s this strengths study? How did it come about?

Our current project on strengths was inspired by that lit review because when we were looking at the data we realized how sparse it is and how important it is that this gap is filled… So a couple of years ago we met with the Family Advisory Committee and the Adults with FASD Expert Collaboration Team. From the very beginning stages we wanted to be very collaborative so that it would be meaningful and applicable to folks with lived experience… Over these conversations we designed a research study… focusing on identity and strengths, and how those intersect with wellbeing for people with FASD. 

What do you think this research will do for the FASD community? How will it actually help people with FASD?  

So that’s really the most important question… I think it will help the people with FASD who participate, just the experience of being asked ‘what are you good at, what is important to you?’ I think that’s a pretty validating and empowering experience just in and of itself… More indirectly the results will help to shift that momentum in the narrative that we were talking about earlier around how there is a lot of… opportunity for growth and success and resilience and healthy outcomes for people with FASD.

I also think that in terms of policy, the more data we collect and the more numbers that we can compile and use to make our case that there is hope and there is opportunity here, then I think that can, slowly – because nothing moves quickly in research or policy – add that consistent momentum we need to balance our conversations around FASD. 

The strengths study is open to adults with FASD worldwide. You don’t have to have a formal diagnosis of FASD, if you think you have FASD or identify with having FASD you can be a part of this study.

You can participate by completing an online survey, sharing a piece of artwork, or doing both. The survey will probably take you between 30 and 60 minutes to finish. Click here to learn more and participate.

Retrieved from https://canfasd.ca/2023/03/15/celebrating-strengths-in-fasd-this-neurodiversity-week/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=celebrating-strengths-in-fasd-this-neurodiversity-week


New Course on Substance Use Treatment and FASD

New Course: Substance Use and Treatment in FASD

We are excited to announce that our newest online course just launched! Substance Use and Treatment in FASD is a Level II online training course designed to support substance use and addictions professionals when treating individuals with FASD. However, anyone supporting an individual with FASD who uses substances will benefit from this training.

The course shares evidence-based knowledge and best practices on how to support individuals with FASD with substance use treatment. The following modules are included:

  • Understanding the person with FASD
    • Consideration of Brain-Based Differences;
    • FASD Identification and Screening
  • Applying an FASD lens to the treatment cycle
    • Entry to Treatment Programs
    • Tailoring During Treatment Programming
    • Supporting Transitioning After Treatment
    • Maintaining and Re-Engaging
    • Access to Support Services
  • Enhancing program practices to be FASD-informed
    • FASD Training and Education
    • Integrating FASD Prevention and Treatment
    • Harm Reduction
    • Creative and Recreational Approaches
    • Evaluation
  • Enacting person-first program philosophies
    • Cultural Safety
    • Trauma-Informed Care
    • Sex and Gender Informed
    • Strengths-Based Approaches
    • Promoting Interdependence

You can register for this course on the CanFASD E-Learning Platform. This course is a small part of a large project we’ve been working on around substance use and FASD. The French version will be available soon!

This initiative has been made possible through a financial contribution from Health Canada. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada.


Canada FASD Conference: Early bird registration is now open


The first ever Canada FASD Conference is happening in November 2023! Join us in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for three days of presentations and events to learn how we can transform evidence into action in the field of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

This conference will bring together approximately 500 researchers, caregivers, individuals with FASD, policymakers, and professionals to share what they know about FASD. Canadian and international attendees are welcome!


This year’s theme is Connect, Inspire, Innovate: From Evidence to Action. 

Le thème cette année est Rassembler, Inspirer, Innover: Évidences et Initiatives. 


Registration is now open. Early-bird price is $450 (plus eventbrite fee & GST) until June 30, after which it will be $500. follow this link to register: https://canfasd.ca/canada-fasd-conference/



Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol And Health – A Three-Part Webinar Series In March

Dear colleague,

Join us for a free webinar series on Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health. The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) is hosting the series on March 14, 21 and 28. Register now for one, two or all three webinars.

Webinar 1: The Making of Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health

Date: March 14, 1 p.m. eastern

Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health co-chairs, Dr. Catherine Paradis and Dr. Peter Butt, as well as the project’s lead epidemiologist, Dr. Kevin Shield

Designed for stakeholders and partners who used the 2011 Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines (LRDGs), this webinar will explain how the experts came to the conclusions they did for the 2023 Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health.

This is a unique opportunity to learn directly from those involved in the update of Canada’s 2011 LRDGs about the research behind the 2023 guidance.

Webinar 2: The Clinical Implications of Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health

Date: March 21, 1 p.m. eastern

Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health co-chair Dr. Peter Butt and CCSA CEO, Dr. Alexander Caudarella

Designed for health professionals, family doctors and nurses, this webinar will explain how the 2023 Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health can be used in clinical settings.

This is a unique opportunity to learn directly from those involved in the update of Canada’s 2011 LRDGs how best to use the 2023 guidance and engage in discussions about alcohol use with patients.

Webinar 3: Frequently Asked Questions from Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health

Date: March 28, 1 p.m. eastern

Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health’s leading experts: Dr. Catherine Paradis, Dr. Peter Butt, Dr. Kevin Shield, Dr. Nancy Poole, Dr. Samantha Wells, Dr. Erin Hobin and Dr. Tim Naimi

Open to both those who use the guidance in their work and the public, this conversational style webinar will answer frequently asked questions from Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health. It’s a unique opportunity to ask questions of those directly involved in the production of Canada’s new guidance.

**While the first two webinars are specifically designed for those in the health, policy and substance use fields, registration for the third webinar will be open to the public as well.**

Register today and join participants from these varied perspectives to review how Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health can be applied in your daily work and life.

We look forward to seeing you!

Retrieved from https://preventionconversation.org/2023/02/28/register-today-canadas-guidance-on-alcohol-and-health-webinar-series/


University of Calgary: Research recruitment for families with neurodevelopmental disorders

The Owerko Centre at the University of Calgary is recruiting children and families who have a concern in development into a database for research recruitment. This database will allow researchers at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and UCalgary to contact families who may be interested in participating in research to tell them about studies. More information can be found here and here.

For more information on the research project reach out to Erin.

Erin Gionet (she/her)

NDD Research Database Coordinator

Owerko Centre, Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute

University of Calgary

P: 403.441.3109 | C: 403.861.2157




New Webinar: Correctional Services and FASD

A conversation about correctional services and FASD: free CanFASD webinar.

Join us for our newest webinar, A Conversation About Correctional Services and FASD, happening Friday, February 24 at 1:00pm EST.

Dr. Mansfield Mela, Angela Kemble, and Michael Stansberry are feature presenters in this webinar. They will share research on the high prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in the corrections system and examples of current services and training offered to support individuals with FASD.

Be sure to register now to attend!

Retrieved from https://canfasd.ca/2023/02/22/new-webinar-correctional-services-and-fasd/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-webinar-correctional-services-and-fasd



Alberta Health Services 23 February 2023  |  12:05 – 12:50 (MST)  /  14:05 – 14:50 (ET)The

Addiction & Mental Health (AMH) Knowledge Bites Lunch & Learn Series is a quarterly event hosted by the Alberta Health Services Provincial AMH team. This series is intended for evaluators, researchers, decision makers, health professionals, and others with an interest in Addiction & Mental Health-related evidence topics.

The next presentation, Critical Opportunities in the Emergency Department for People Who Use Substances, will focus on how care in EDs has evolved based on findings from local research and with input from people with lived and living experience. Future areas of inquiry designed to improve care in the ED will also be discussed. 
Register now
Retrieved from https://preventionconversation.org/2023/02/20/addiction-mental-health-knowledge-bites-lunch-learn-series/

Abstract Submission Open for the Canada FASD Conference!

We are pleased to announce that we are now accepting abstract submissions for the Canada FASD Conference! The conference is November 7-9, 2023 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. We are accepting submissions for both Research/Policy/Practice and Personal Experience.  

Abstract submission

FASD touches many lives. To be successful in breaking down barriers, erasing stigma, and improving wellness, we need all people and perspectives working together. The goal of our conference is to ensure all voices connected to FASD have the opportunity to be heard.

We are accepting Research/Policy/Practice abstracts and Personal Experience abstracts. Individuals and teams are encouraged to submit abstracts that stimulate ideas and discussion, promote learning of knowledge and skills, and energize attendees to participate in debate and critical reflection.

Types of abstracts

For Research/Policy/Practice submissions, we are accepting abstracts for oral presentation, interactive learning workshops, and posters. Work submitted for presentation should not have been reported previously in a publication, either as an article or as an abstract. Presenters will need to clearly establish the applicable use of their work for the audience.

For Personal Experience abstracts we are inviting mothers, individuals with FASD and their families/caregivers to share their stories. We encourage different types of submissions, including posters, artwork, storytelling, or oral presentations.

Canada FASD Conference themes

The conference theme is Connect, Inspire, Innovate: From Evidence to Action. Focusing on work that has a tangible impact can help us envision and action a future where barriers are broken down and stigma is eliminated.

We want stories that can connect us, projects that will inspire us, and innovations that are moving the field forward. When we show how we can move from evidence to action, we can empower everyone.

Abstracts are welcome in all areas of FASD and FASD Prevention.  The conference will focus on presentations in the following areas:

  • Current trends and new issues
  • Wellness including resiliency, physical health, and healthy approaches
  • Reconciliation, community and culture-driven approaches
  • Supporting at-risk or priority populations (e.g., youth and emerging adults, incarcerated and justice involved-persons, older adults, people who are unhoused, new Canadians, LGBTQ2S+, etc.)
  • Stigma reduction and discrimination
  • Innovative and novel approaches to delivering care
  • The continuum of care: promoting health, services, and support across the lifespan
  • Building capacity
  • Clinical research
  • Prevention efforts that span the spectrum of FASD prevention approaches
  • Assessment and diagnosis
  • Intersections of FASD with Child welfare, Justice, Housing, Employment, Education, and parenting
  • International work; and
  • Personal experience.

How to submit an abstract

You can submit an abstract on the conference website for both Personal Experience abstracts and Research/Policy/Practice abstracts. The deadline for abstract submissions is April 24, 2023.

Retrieved from https://canfasd.ca/2023/02/15/abstract-submission-open-for-the-canada-fasd-conference/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=abstract-submission-open-for-the-canada-fasd-conference



Lauren Pelley · CBC News · Posted: Jan 24, 2023 2:00 AM MST 

Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/alcohol-drinking-brain-science-1.6722942?_cldee=WqmxvHZh89naExonMzwr109zCHEWiuymx_eIqm0t5a_Tm39jIirLW0ERXy9KbwUO&recipientid=contact-e551c9199c4ce8118147480fcff4b171-bd325f752e8248b689ca6f737470728a&esid=6da4d6c1-be9c-ed11-aad1-0022486dc98c

and https://preventionconversation.org/2023/01/27/cbc-hangover-headaches-are-the-least-of-your-worries-scientists-say-drinking-can-be-hard-on-the-brain/

Last year, Jesica Hurst began to reevaluate the role casual drinking played in her life, and what it meant for her wellbeing and mental health. Around six months ago, the Toronto resident decided to give up alcohol entirely. “I still deal with the day-to-day anxieties… but it's a lot more manageable," she said.

Last year, Jesica Hurst began to re-evaluate the role casual drinking played in her life, and what it meant for her wellbeing and mental health. Around six months ago, the Toronto resident gave up alcohol entirely. (Lauren Pelley/CBC)

For Jesica Hurst, kicking off the weekend used to mean having a glass of wine. 

Drinking was also her go-to for all kinds of situations, from combating social anxiety before a big night out, to winding down after a stressful day at work. 

But it came with a downside — feelings of sadness, anxiety and stress in the days that followed. And for someone with diagnosed anxiety and depression, the Toronto resident began to re-evaluate the role casual drinking played in her life, and what it meant for her wellbeing and mental health.

Around six months ago, Hurst gave up alcohol entirely.

Since then, “I’ve noticed that things are a lot more balanced,” she said. “I still deal with the day-to-day anxieties… but it’s a lot more manageable.”

It’s no secret that a night of drinking can rattle your head — from the brain buzz it provides in the moment, to the morning-after headaches and feelings of ‘hangxiety’ people often get after having a bit too much booze.

But what does science actually tell us about how alcohol affects your brain?

While liver issues, heart disease and various types of cancer are typically talked about as potential impacts of long-term drinking, research also suggests alcohol can negatively affect mental health conditions or hike the risk of cognitive problems and dementia. On the flip side, cutting back — or cutting it out — could give your brain a boost.

“We see the world through rose-tinted glasses when we’re drinking,” said Tim Stockwell, a scientist at the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research and professor at the University of Victoria.

“However, that’s the short-term effect. The longer-term effect is that, even just over a few hours, alcohol is a [central nervous system] depressant, and that lift of mood is replaced by tiredness, fatigue and anxiety.”

‘Abundant evidence’

There’s a growing body of evidence of both alcohol’s negative impacts on the brain, and the benefits of cutting back, echoed researcher Dr. Henry Kranzler, a professor of psychiatry and director of the Center for Studies of Addiction at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.

“Sleep is disrupted by alcohol, even modest amounts of alcohol,” he said, adding that heavier drinking has also long been associated with a depressed mood. 

One review of published medical research in the late 1990s suggested that, even then, “abundant evidence” showed patients with mood and anxiety disorders should abstain from even moderate drinking, as it “adversely affects their clinical course and response to treatment.”

Heavier drinking, Stockwell says, can further accelerate and exaggerate emotional ups and downs.

“Anxiety is more pressing, it’s more intense,” he said. “The alcohol will take it away and alleviate it for a short while, but it bounces back more lively than ever.”

A sweeping report on alcohol-related harms released in 2018 by the World Health Organization (WHO) described alcohol as a “psychoactive substance” affecting various neural pathways and parts of the brain.

That means the brain is affected both while someone is drinking — which can show up as increased confidence, reduced inhibitions and reaction times, and eventual impairment that can make activities like driving a car far more dangerous — and after the fact.

Click here to read the full article.


New Webinar: A Digital Handbook on Wraparound Programs

Join us and the Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health at this one-hour webinar,  Co-Creating Evidence: A Digital Handbook on Wraparound Programs on January 31, 2023 at 1:00pm EST.

Wraparound supports are essential for those who are pregnant and using substance. The Digital Handbook on Wraparound Programs is a free resource, created to support the development and operation of wraparound programs for pregnant and/or early parenting women and gender diverse people facing substance use and related concerns.

The handbook was developed with multiple different people in mind, including program planners, managers and staff, service partners from a variety of health and social sectors, funders, researchers, community members, and families affected by perinatal substance use. It was produced as part of the Co-Creating Evidence project.

In this webinar, presenters Deborah Rutman, Carol Hubberstey, Marilyn Van Bibber, and Nancy Pool will share more about this resource and how it may be applied to your work. Register now to attend.

You can find all of our past webinars on our website!

Retrieved from https://canfasd.ca/2023/01/18/new-webinar-wraparound-programs-fasd-prevention/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-webinar-wraparound-programs-fasd-prevention