Community and Social Services: Letter to FSCD Families

Hello FSCD Families,

The ministry of Community and Social Services (CSS) is reaching out to you because we know the COVID-19 pandemic situation is an extremely challenging time for all Albertans and we know every family in Alberta is facing unforeseen pressures related to accessing community services such as day care and recreation, purchasing household necessities, and remaining connected to family and friends. Regardless of who you are or where you live, COVID-19 is affecting all Albertans practically, financially and emotionally. CSS knows that the current situation can be particularly hard on families who rely on our programs and services for support, and we want you to know we are committed to maintaining CSS programs and services during the COVID-19 pandemic, within the context of our current reality.

Please note we are in daily discussions with Inclusion Alberta and the Alberta Council for Disability Services to monitor the impact the COVID-19 situation is having on Albertans with disabilities and their families. We are also speaking regularly with the Chair of the Provincial Parents Advisory Council (PPAC). These conversations are informing the management of our disability programs during this pandemic crisis.

Please be assured that during the COVID-19 pandemic, CSS staff will continue to administer FSCD agreements as per usual practice; including the renewal of existing agreements. We encourage you to remain in regular phone and on-line contact with your FSCD worker to address any concerns you may have (in-person meetings are paused until further notice as per public health social distancing directives). As always, and on a case-by-case basis, there is room for flexibility within existing FSCD agreements to make adjustments to help meet your needs during the COVID-19 crisis. FSCD staff will work with you and be as flexible as possible. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic you can utilize community aide hours within your agreement to support respite. Additionally, as there are no ‘typical school day/hours’ at this time with schools closed, you can utilize your existing FSCD agreement funding for respite and other FSCD services during the day. Please connect with your FSCD worker regarding how to make this happen and to discuss other ways to meet your current needs within your existing agreement.

We are tracking the administrative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic so please record the things you are doing within your agreement that are specific to COVID-19, and remember to inform your FSCD worker about each one. Our staff will continue to support your family as best we can during this challenging time.

In closing, please know we recognize the current COVID-19 pandemic situation may affect the availability of services you typically access through your FSCD agreement. For example, because of public health protective measures, it will be increasingly difficult to access some of the services that support your child and your family. If your FSCD agreement has lower expenditures in certain service areas that are only due to the COVID-19 situation, this will not impact decisions regarding your child’s FSCD support needs in future FSCD agreements.

Remember, the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 is available on line at www.alberta.ca.

Sincerely,

John Stinson, Assistant Deputy Minister Program Policy and Improvement, Community and Social Services

Jason Chance, Assistant Deputy Minister Delivery Services, Community and Social Services

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Click here to download the Ministry message.

 

 

Retrieved from: https://preventionconversation.org/2020/03/25/community-and-social-services-letter-to-fscd-families/

CANFASD: COVID-19 Tips for Caregivers of Individuals with FASD

COVID-19 is a respiratory infection that can be spread from person to person through small water droplets from the nose and mouth. There are a number of preventive health measures that you can implement to reduce the risk of infection or transmission. However, preventive health practices can be difficult to implement in a home with children, particularly individuals with FASD. Challenges with sensory regulation, attention, memory, and emotional regulation make it difficult for children with FASD to understand and implement preventive health practices. The social distancing measures that have been put in place can result in feelings of depression, stress, confusion, and anxiety. This blog outlines some tips for caregivers to help you implement preventive health practices in your home.

Explain COVID-19 to your child

Most children will have already heard of the coronavirus or realized that a number of changes have been put in place over the past few weeks. This is a good opportunity to address their fears and concerns and to correct any misinformation your child may have heard. Ask your child what they’ve heard about COVID-19 and how they feel about it. Address their feelings while remaining calm and reassuring. Use developmentally appropriate language and place a strong focus on the preventive measures that have been put in place for their safety. Some organizations have developed stories and workbooks to help explain COVID-19 to children.

Set a new routine 

Individuals with FASD thrive with a set routine in place, but social distancing measures like school closures and event cancellations have caused some disruptions to your daily routines.

  • Try to build your new routine with elements from your old routines.
    • Maintain current sleep schedules to ensure your children are getting the rest they need and to make the return to your normal routine easier.
    • Eat the same meals you would usually eat on a daily basis at the same time as you usually would eat them (i.e., breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks).
    • Do you know when your child has outdoor play time at school or in daycare? Try and schedule your outdoor activities during these times.
    • Do you know when your child eats lunch or has snack breaks while in school or at daycare? Try and schedule your snacks and lunches to be at the same time.
  • Plan a set schedule of activities throughout the week. Block out set times for activities, meals, downtime, screen time, games, social interaction, and more.
  • Involve your children in the planning process by sitting down with them to make a list of potential projects or activities that you can do throughout the week.
  • Incorporate preventive health measures, such as handwashing, into your routine (i.e., we wash our hands before and after we eat our meals).

Prominently display protection reminders 

Display visual cues like “handwashing pictures” in prominent areas to remind your children of the steps of the handwashing process.

Manage sensitivities

Individuals with FASD sometimes experience hypersensitivity, which means they may react more strongly to sensory stimuli than others. The scent of some soaps or disinfectants, the temperature of the water, and the feel of some towels or tissues may cause a sensory overload. Be aware of your child’s sensitivities and do your best to accommodate them.

Give direct and positive health instructions

Give a direct and timely instruction, such as “Go wash your hands now”. Remove any unnecessary words like “please” or place them at the end of the sentence. Also provide positive instruction. State what you want your child to do, rather than what not to do. For example, say “Cough into your elbow” rather than saying “Don’t cough in your hands”.

Make preventive health fun 

Turn preventive health measures into a game or a fun activity rather than a serious chore for your child to complete. Have them sing a song for 20 seconds every time they wash their hands.

Monitor your child’s health

Some individuals with FASD have hyposensitivity, which means that they may not feel pain and discomfort in the same way that other people do. Monitor their health regularly for signs and symptoms of respiratory illness, including fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Assign colours or symbols 

Individuals with FASD are often challenged with the concept of ownership. Assign colours or symbols to personal items like toothbrushes and towels to indicate which item is theirs to avoid potential transmission.

Practice calming techniques

Social distancing measures may be extremely challenging for your child and your family, as routines change, emotions are heightened, and you spend more time in closer quarters. Be prepared for potential emotional outbursts resulting from sensory overload. Practice calming techniques that reduce stimulation without punishment, such as:

  • Providing a “comfort corner” or sensory deprived environment where your child can go to self-regulate and calm down (i.e., a tent or bean bag chair with a blanket and noise cancelling headphones).
  • Wrapping your child in a blanket and repeat “calm down” over and over again.
  • Providing oral stimulation (i.e., crunchy pretzels, applesauce, chewing gum, etc.).
  • Encouraging muscle movement (i.e., provide a large pail full of dried beans and have them dig through to find the three marbles hidden inside the beans).

Keep in mind that individuals with FASD are unique. The challenges that your family face and the approaches that you use won’t necessarily be the same as another’s. Remember that you know your family best! Trust in your ability to support them.

Do you have any other recommendations? Send us an email at connect@canfasd.ca!

 

 

Retrieved from: https://canfasdblog.com/2020/03/25/covid-19-tips-for-caregivers-of-individuals-with-fasd/

Alberta Health Services: A new text-based program called #Text4Hope

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Dr. Deena Hinshaw
Text4Hope sends subscribers text messages of support to ease stress and anxiety. All Albertans have been impacted by COVID-19, and this free program is an additional resource help us find encouragement as we navigate the challenges of a new normal.
Connection is so vitally important to our mental and emotional wellbeing. I also encourage anyone who needs support to reach out to someone they trust, talk to a family member, friend, or a person they can be honest with to talk through concerns.

World Health Organization: Q&A on COVID-19, pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding

Research is currently underway to understand the impacts of COVID 19 infection on pregnant women. Data are limited, but at present there is no evidence that they are at higher risk of severe illness than the general population.

However, due to changes in their bodies and immune systems, we know that pregnant women can be badly affected by some respiratory infections. It is therefore important that they take precautions to protect themselves against COVID-19, and report possible symptoms (including fever, cough or difficulty breathing) to their healthcare provider.

WHO will continue to review and update its information and advice as more evidence becomes available.

Pregnant women should take the same precautions to avoid COVID-19 infection as other people. You can help protect yourself by:

  • Washing your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Keeping space between yourselves and others.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Practicing respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

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Click here for more questions & answers from the WHO in regard to COVID19 and pregnancy.

 

Retrieved from: https://preventionconversation.org/2020/03/21/world-health-organization-qa-on-covid-19-pregnancy-childbirth-and-breastfeeding/

CANFASD: 15 THINGS TO DO WHILE SOCIAL DISTANCING

The community-wide prevention measures that have been put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 means that Canadians have a lot of downtime over the next few weeks. Here are a few things that you can do to pass the time while you practice social distancing.

This list of activities is not intended for everyone and is not broken down by age group or developmental stage. Every individual is unique, with their own strengths and interests. Some of these activities may not be suitable or enjoyable for you or your children. Please use discretion when choosing activities from this list.

1. Play a board game

Dust off your favourite board games and have a good, old-fashioned games night. If you have a limited stock of board games, look online for the rules to quick and easy card games like “Go Fish” or “Crazy Eights” or start up a game of charades. If you are home by yourself there are a number of mobile apps you can download that let you play your favourite board games online against other individuals or computers.

2. Read

Depending on your child’s age and skill level, this can be a solo or assisted activity. If reading books isn’t really your cup of tea, try listening to audiobooks or podcasts instead.

3. Do a science experiment 

There are a number of science experiments online that you can replicate in your home. Find experiments that use household items so you don’t have to go shopping. Things like baking soda and vinegar volcanoesand dish soap and milk artare great ways to use the ingredients you have on hand. Remember to follow the safety instructions when doing experiments and never mix household chemicals if you don’t know what will happen.

4. Grow plants 

You don’t even need to buy seeds or soil! There are a number of plants that you can grow from food scraps or the seeds found in your kitchen, including avocados, potatoes, peppers, onions, herbs, and more. You can look up how to grow specific plants on the internet, or you can just experiment by putting different seeds in soil (if you have any) or wrapping them in damp paper towel to see what happens.

5. Spring clean

While not necessarily a fun way to spend your time, spring cleaning is definitely practical. Use your extra time to do a thorough clean of your house from top to bottom. Package up those old, no-longer used clothes and toys and store them until they can be sold or donated.

6. Take an online field trip 

Have you ever wanted to see the surface of Mars? Or explore a NASA Research Facility? How about wanting to see famous art collections from all around the world or visit the Smithsonian Museum? Many organizations have virtual tours of their facilities available for free online that you can visit from the comfort of your house.

7. Connect with friends and family

There are a number of ways that you and your children can connect with friends and family members, including email, phone, facetime, social media, and text messages. You can even sit down and write a letter, which you can send through the post or you can take a photo of and email to friends and family. Social interaction can reduce boredom and reduce depression, anxiety, and stress during periods of self-isolation.

8. See the opera

The Metropolitan Opera will be streaming a select number of their shows for free online every night this week.

9. Volunteer

If you have some extra time on your hands and want to do something rewarding, find organizations that you can volunteer with remotely. Help lines like Kids Help Phone are overwhelmed with calls about COVID-19 right now and are looking to hire and train new volunteers. Take a look at local volunteer organizations that speak to your interests and contact them to see if there are any remote opportunities.

10. Try a new recipe

Get out your aprons and try a new recipe in the kitchen. There are tons of recipes that you can find online that can be customized for specific dietary needs and restrictions. Challenge yourself to try recipes that you can make with the ingredients you have in your house so you don’t have to go to the store.

11. Professional Development 

Take this opportunity to learn or improve a skill that can help you with future employment. Take our free Foundations in FASD online course or our sector specific courses for professionals. You can also search a number of videos on Youtube that can teach you the basics of important technologies for the workplace, like the Microsoft Office Suite.

12. Get creative 

Pull out the paints, crayons, pencils, and markers and let your creativity flow! You can download colouring templates from the Internet or create from your own imagination.

13. Work up a sweat

Exercise improves both physical and mental health and well-being. Make sure you get your body moving throughout the day. Search online for workouts that you can do from home and take the opportunity to try a new activity you’ve never done before. If traditional workouts aren’t for you, turn up some music and start dancing or play a game of tag or hide and go seek with your family, anything to get your blood pumping.

14. Do a craft 

There are so many crafts that you can do with the materials you have around your home. You can make stained glass art with crayons, wax paper, and an iron, or you can make a clothespin catapult with a clothespin, glue, and a bottlecap. You can find even more ideas for do it yourself crafts online.

15. Get outdoors 

Going outdoors has positive physical and mental health benefits and it can relieve some of the boredom and repetitiveness that comes from social distancing. Find some greenspaces where you are alone or where you can maintain your distance from others. Avoid playgrounds and play structures, as the virus can stay on surfaces for a period of time. Local parks, hiking trails, bike rides, walks around your neighbourhood, playtime in your backyards, and chalk drawings on your driveway are all ways to practice social distancing while getting outdoors. That being said, if you are experiencing even mild symptoms, stay home whenever possible.

What are your favourite social distancing activities? 

 

Retrieved from: https://canfasdblog.com/2020/03/20/15-things-to-do-while-social-distancing/

CFAN: COVID-19 RESOURCE WEB PAGE

Below please find information and resources to assist during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Check back often, as information and resources will be added as they become available.

CFAN COMMUNICATIONS

CFAN Response to COVID-19 (March 18, 2020)

COVID-19 Prevention & Medical RESOURCES

Alberta Health Services COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool (added Mar 19)

Public Health Agency of Canada – Social Distancing (added Mar 19)

Government of Alberta – Prevent the Spread (added Mar 19)

GOVERNMENT UPDATES & INFORMATION

COVID-19 City of Calgary Information

Government of Alberta: COVID-19 Info for Albertans

Government of Canada: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

WHAT IS CORONAVIRUS?

Public Health Agency of Canada – Coronavirus Fact Sheet #1

Public Health Agency of Canada – Coronavirus Fact Sheet #2

COVID-19 Information By and For People with Disabilities (Courtesy Green Mountain Self Advocates USA)

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE & Relief programs

Government of Alberta Emergency Financial Assistance

Government of Alberta COVID-19 Financial Supports (*NEW – Mar 18)

Government of Canada Income Assistance

ENMAX Relief program

FOOD BANK, GROCERIEs & RETAIL Information

Calgary Co-op (added Mar 19)

Calgary Food Bank (added Mar 19)

MENTAL HEALTH & ADDICTIONS SUPPORT

Alberta Health Services – Help In Tough Times

Alcoholics Anonymous Calgary (added Mar 19)

Catholic Family Service Supports (added Mar 19)

CAMH – Mental Health & The COVID-19 Pandemic

Wood’s Homes Counselling (added Mar 19)

canada fasd research network – canfasd

What is COVID-19 and how does it impact you?

Managing Stress Surrounding COVID-19

COVID-19 Tips for Individuals with FASD

RESOURCES FOR CHILDREN

My Wellness Social Story: Learning About the Coronavirus (Courtesy of Piruqatigiit Resource Centre)

Indoor Activities For Kids (Courtesy thebestideasforkids.com)

Daily Home Schedule (Courtesy Behavioural Interventionals & Solutions LLC)

Scholastic – Learn at Home and Scholastic – Things To Do

 

Retrieved from: https://www.mycfan.ca/covid19-information?fbclid=IwAR3mX_lpBirF4xwmEiTdlkoVWN9AazTjlbbuB1GRtFCNODshQt799vE8gNY

CANFASD: COVID-19 TIPS FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH FASD

Information about COVID-19 or coronavirus seems to be all over the news these days. The government is recommending that Canadians practice “social distancing measures”, which means that people should stay home and avoid contact with one another. Events have been cancelled, schools and daycares have been closed, and the daily routines in workplaces are changing. These changes can be really scary, confusing, frustrating, and/or overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you:

Protect yourself
There are a number of things that you can do to prevent yourself from getting the virus and transmitting it to other people.

  • Wash your hands: Wash your hands carefully with soap and water for 20 seconds. You can also clean your hands using an alcohol-based disinfectant. You should wash your hands after:
    • coughing or sneezing;
    • when caring for people who are sick;
    • before, during, and after you prepare food;
    • before eating;
    • after using the washroom;
    • when your hands are visibly dirty; and
    • after handling animals or animal waste.
  • Avoid touching your face: The virus can spread if you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth after touching a surface that may be infected (e.g., with the virus on it). Wash your hands frequently and limit the number of times that you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Frequently clean surfaces: Depending on the environment, COVID-19 can stay on surfaces for up to several days. The virus can spread if you touch your nose, mouth, or eyes right after touching an infected surface. Disinfect, or clean, commonly touched items such as toys, phones, toilets, electronics, and door handles using household cleaners.
  • Catch your cough: Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, not your hand. Throw out your tissue in the garbage immediately afterwards and wash your hands.
  • Practice social distancing: Avoid contact with other individuals wherever possible to limit the spread of the virus. Maintain a space of at least six feet or more between yourself and others. Stay home whenever possible.
  • Don’t share items: Avoid sharing items that other individuals may have touched or used, like cups, utensils, toothbrushes, and towels.

Stick to your routine
Routines are really helpful for individuals with FASD, and all the cancellations and closures have probably disrupted your routine. Keep as many things from your old routine as possible, including the time you wake up, the time you eat dinner, and the time you go to bed. This routine will help you to keep up with good habits and to lessen some feelings of fear, confusion, or anxiety.

Avoid large events
The social distancing measures the government has put in place likely upset your daily schedule and caused many of your events and activities over the next few weeks to be cancelled. Make a list of the events that haven’t been cancelled and decide whether you have to go to them or whether you can skip/cancel/postpone them. Avoid events where you have to be in close physical contact with a large number of people. Stay home whenever possible.

Talk to your boss
Many stores and restaurants are shutting down for the next few weeks, and some workplaces are recommending that their employees work from home. Call or email your employer to discuss whether or not your workplace will be closing over the next few weeks. Ask if they are putting any special measures in place to deal with COVID-19 and, if they are, ask your employer to have someone walk you through the new rules a few times to make sure you completely understand them.

Plan ahead
Make a list of the essential things that you would need if you were sick and had to stay home for two weeks. Include things that you can keep in the cupboard and freezer without going bad, like pasta, canned beans, tomato sauce, rice, frozen meals, etc. Break your list into “what I want” and “what I need” and only buy the things in the “what I need column”. Ask a friend or family member to do your grocery shopping for you or with you.

Stay in contact with your local FASD organization
Get in touch with your local FASD organization over the phone or by email. Many organizations are closing their physical locations over the next few weeks to slow the spread of the virus, but they will still be available to talk via phone or email if you are in need of support.

Get the facts
If you want to learn more about COVID-19, make sure the places you go to get your information are reliable and truthful. The best place to get information on COVID-19 in Canada is the Government of Canada website. You can also get information from your local health agency, your provincial or territorial government, and the World Health Organization.

Don’t buy “cures”
There is currently no cure for coronavirus or medicine that will protect you from catching coronavirus. Some people on the internet may lie to you by saying that their product can protect you from the virus. This is not true. You can protect yourself by washing your hands frequently and separating yourself from others.

Be a hero
Staying home when you don’t think you are sick can be really hard and you can start to feel bored or frustrated. Health care professionals and scientists would not ask you to stay home if they didn’t think it was important. By staying away from other people, you can slow the spread of coronavirus and be a hero for others!

Talk to someone
If you start to feel overwhelmed, anxious, fearful, depressed, or upset, there are a number of people you can talk to. Try contacting your friends and family members by text message, email, phone, or social media. If you are feeling extremely overwhelmed, are experiencing suicidal thoughts, or are turning to alcohol or drugs to cope with your emotions, take the time to call a professional. You can find a list of all the Canadian help lines here.

If you think you are sick

  1. Monitor your symptoms. If you start to feel unwell (i.e., if you have a runny nose or a mild headache) you should stay home.
  2. If you get symptoms like a fever, a deep cough, and difficulty breathing, call your local health agency or helpline.
  3. Tell your local helpline that you have a neurodevelopmental disability and you need help understanding what you should do. Not everyone will understand what FASD is or how it impacts you, so use the term “neurodevelopmental disability”.
  4. Listen to the advice from the local health line and write down what they say. They may tell you to:
    • Stay home and continue to watch your symptoms
    • Go to a hospital or emergency room to get treated
    • Wear a mask when you go out in public
  5. Inform a trusted family member or friend of how you are feeling and what the people on the health line suggested you do.
  6. Follow the steps that the local health line gave you

 

Retrieved from: https://canfasdblog.com/2020/03/19/covid-19-tips-for-individuals-with-fasd/

Managing Stress Surrounding COVID-19

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments in Canada are implementing strict measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. Some recent measures have included travel restrictions, school closures, and event cancellations. Governments are urging Canadians to practice social distancing and stay home whenever possible.

These measures are necessary to reduce the pressure on our health care system. When everyone gets sick at the same time, it overloads the capacity of our health care system and we don’t have the resources to treat every person. Community-wide preventative measures can slow the rate of transmission. With less people sick at the same time, our health care system has the capacity to treat everyone who is ill.

However, these preventative measures can be overwhelming, stressful, and anxiety-inducing for individuals with FASD and their families. School and workplace closures can disrupt the routines that help individuals with FASD to navigate their daily lives. Parents are left trying to find childcare options or having to take time off work to care for their children while schools are closed. Workplace closures can interfere with income, causing anxiety surrounding how families will survive into the future. Event cancellations can result in feelings of disappointment and mistrust, and social distancing measures may result in depression, fear, anxiety, and loneliness.

All of these situations can be extremely stressful for caregivers of individuals with FASD. The World Health Organization has provided some strategies for coping with stress during the outbreak, which we’ve have added to:

  • Talk to someone: The feelings of sadness, stress, confusion, fear, and anger that you are experiencing are completely normal in these circumstances. Talk to a friend or family member that you trust about these feelings. Although the government is recommending Canadians stay inside, email, text messages, phone calls, and video messaging are great ways to stay in contact with your support system.
  • Get reliable information: If the source of your stress is originating from fears and concerns surrounding the “unknowns” of COVID-19, arm yourself with the most up-to-date information about the virus from reliable sources like government websites and health agencies.
  • Limit media coverage: If you are upset and stressed by the constant media coverage of COVID-19, limit your media exposure. Seek information from reliable sources such as public health agencies and governments, and limit the time you spend on social media, and listening and watching the news.
  • Practice self-care: Stress reduction is critical in caregivers of individuals with FASD and other disabilities because of their high levels of stress. When you begin to feel overwhelmed, take some time for yourself. Even a few minutes can provide you with a much-needed reset to get you through the rest of the day. Be sure to follow the best practices outlined by the Public Health Agency of Canada and find opportunities for self-care that align with the social distancing recommendations. Researchers have shown that the most-used strategies for self-care include:
    • Quiet time (i.e., yoga, “me-time”, prayer, time in nature)
    • Physical health (i.e., exercise, healthy eating, sleeping better)
    • Social support (i.e., support groups, support networks, counsellors)
    • Hobbies
  • Recognize burnout: Caregiver burnout is a state of stress and fatigue that is caused by increased and sustained levels of stress from caring for an individual without the proper supports in place. Interventions, support groups, and short periods of rest can improve your wellbeing. With recommendations in place that suggest social gatherings be limited or cancelled, physical support groups may be difficult to access. However, there are always opportunities to connect with other caregivers virtually, including:
  • Seek professional help: If you become too overwhelmed to deal with the stress of the situation or find yourself turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms like drugs or alcohol, consider connecting with a professional. There are a number of telehealth lines available across Canada that can connect you with the services and resources you need.

Here are some resources that discuss caregiver burnout in more detail:

 

Retrieved from: https://canfasdblog.com/2020/03/18/managing-stress-surrounding-covid-19/