CBC: More supports needed for people with FASD, say advocates

The Prevention Conversation: A Shared Responsibility Project

Maxim Baril-Blouin, who had FASD, died of a suspected drug overdose at the Edmonton Remand Centre.(Sylvie Salomon)

People diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) need lifelong supports, but the disorder is often misunderstood, say advocates. 

The recent overdose death of Maxim Baril-Blouin, who had FASD, at the Edmonton Remand Centre has sparked conversations about the needs of people living with the disability. 

Baril-Blouin’s mother was advocating for better supports for her son at the time of his death.

“There is always more demand than what we have to offer, ” said Lisa Rogozinsky, who coordinates the Edmonton and area Fetal Alcohol Network (EFAN).

People with FASD have different needs depending on where they fall on the spectrum, she said. 

“Some of the common areas of impairment…

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Government of Alberta: New funding to make post-secondary more inclusive for students with developmental disabilites

LETHBRIDGE – The University of Lethbridge is joining with 19 other post-secondary institutions in Alberta to offer more educational opportunities to students with developmental disabilities.

On Monday, July 16, Minister of Community and Social Services Irfan Sabir announced the province is providing more than $575,000 to help Inclusion Alberta support six students at the U of L and Portage College.

Sabir says the funding will provide additional opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to pursue post-secondary education.

“I think first and foremost it’s important for a government to have opportunities available to everyone in this province. Everyone belongs, and in particular, a person with developmental disabilities deserves a chance, an opportunity to be successful and live a meaningful life,” Sabir said.

In a release, the province states students with disabilities gain experience by doing the same assignments, practicums and exams as their peers, but with the added support of classmates and inclusive post-secondary facilitators.

The funding to Inclusion Alberta’s Inclusive Post-Secondary Education program brings the total number of participates universities and colleges to 20 – making Alberta a world leader in supporting inclusive post-secondary education for people with developmental disabilities.

Post-Secondary institutions already offering inclusive education opportunities:
– Athabasca University
– Bow Valley College
– Concordia University College of Alberta
– Grande Prairie Regional College
– Keyano College
– Lakeland College
– Lethbridge College
– MacEwan University
– Medicine Hat College
– Mount Royal University
– Norquest College
– Prairie Bible Institute
– Red Deer College
– St. Mary’s University College
– The King’s University College
– University of Alberta
– University of Alberta (Augustana Campus)
– University of Calgary

“As a government, we are always looking to expand those opportunities to every nook and corner of this province,” Sabir continued. “In total, there are 67 students in the province that are so far supported by Inclusion Alberta.”

Sabir says he’s met with Inclusion Alberta, parents of students, and some students who are now entering into the program.

“Education makes a difference in the lives of an individual, and everybody is really excited about this opportunity. You can see so many people showed up here for this announcement, so certainly they’re excited about these opportunities on their campus as well,” Sabir added.

Inclusion Alberta provides a range of programs and services that help people with developmental disabilities live their best lives in their communities.

Barbara Nish, a past president of Inclusion Alberta, says part of the work that they do is all about community inclusion.

“Real inclusion, not just the integration, but the inclusive piece of it. While I was president of the association, inclusive post-secondary was just an extension of everything else. We believe in those normal pathways that people follow in their lives, and post-secondary education for a lot of people is part of that pathway,” Nish said.

IA works in partnership with government departments, schools, employers, service agencies and community organizations to ensure the concerns of Albertans with developmental disabilities and their families are heard.

The Ministry of Community and Social Services is investing more than $4.7 million from April 1, 2017, to March 31, 2019, to support Inclusion Alberta’s IPSE program and Rotary Employment Partnership.

Nish says it gives her goosebumps to think about the opportunities that will now be available for so many students who never thought they would be.

“We’ve been working with this for a long time and we really and truly understand the benefit it has, not just for the student, but for their families and for the community in general,” she continued. “I appreciated some of the remarks that talked about what other people can learn from having students who are different, who fall outside the norm if you will, and being apart of a collective where they can proudly say they’re a student of the University of Lethbridge, or Portage College, or Lethbridge College.”

From what she understands, Nish says the money will go towards development and the hiring of staff who will then provide that support to the University and the students themselves.

“The person who does the inclusive post-secondary stuff at the University will work both with the professors and teachers as well as the students and families. I can’t say where every dollar will go, but I know that is a piece of it. Starting with three students here, three students at Portage and I know there are three students at Medicine Hat College, it begins to set the atmosphere,” Nish said, adding it sets the tone for the future.

“Maybe in another couple of years we’d be able to increase the number of students benefiting from the program.”

As far as interest in the program is concerned, those involved in the announcement believe it will be there in Lethbridge.

“I know that in many post-secondary institutions where this is an initiative, many times the applications far exceed the number of actual spots there are. Whether that’s the case here I’m not certain, but I have a feeling there could be a waiting list or the potential for more students interested than spots available,” Nish said


Government of Alberta: Improving access to AISH supports

New user-friendly Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) application forms and guides will make it easier for Albertans with disabilities to get the supports they need.

AISH Action Plan

Minister Sabir with AISH clients and local MLAs to discuss the new guides.

Albertans, community partners, AISH clients and doctors from across the province helped create a more user-friendly process for Albertans with disabilities to obtain support. Improvements include a clearer, shorter application form that uses plain language and is tailored to relate to an applicant’s situation.

Among other improvements, applicants and physicians are now able to complete the forms at the same time to streamline the process.

“We are taking action to remove barriers and improve access to AISH. We are making changes so that the program is easier to access, more consistent and responsive to Albertans’ needs. There is better information in everyday language and coordinated supports to connect Albertans with the right services at the right time.”

Irfan Sabir, Minister of Community and Social Services

Changes to the AISH system were implemented according to the AISH Action Plan which outlines recommendations by the auditor general. All of these commitments are now complete or in progress.

The AISH Action Plan includes

  • A simplified application form and new guides that make it easier for Albertans to apply and understand the AISH program.
  • The termination of a previous policy that limited the number of hours an AISH applicant could work in order to be eligible for the program.
  • A new adjudication guide and training that help staff make consistent decisions.
  • A streamlined application process that reduces the time it takes for Albertans to get eligibility information.
  • Improved procedures that support clear, individualized communication with Albertans about their applications and options for appealing a decision.

“It was rewarding to help field test the new AISH form and guides for individuals receiving AISH. We were encouraged the materials were already written in plain language and that our suggested edits were incorporated. These resources have simplified the application process for our staff and individuals who apply for AISH.”

Sharon Rempel, Catalyst senior designer, Southern Alberta Community Living Association

“We were excited AISH wanted to hear from us. I liked helping put the form into everyday language so it’s easier for people with disabilities to fill it out.”

Melody Scout, AISH client and field test participant

Most recently, AISH introduced a new physicians’ guide with step-by-step instructions to the updated medical report.

“The Alberta Medical Association was pleased to provide input on the new AISH medical report and physicians’ guide. Improving access to AISH and supporting Alberta’s most vulnerable populations is a priority for physicians. These documents will help us understand the AISH application process and better assist patients who apply.”

Dr. Lyle B. Mittelsteadt, assistant executive director of Professional Affairs, Alberta Medical Association

Albertans can get the complete AISH Action Plan update and new forms, guides and reports at alberta.ca/aish. They can also call Alberta Supports at 1-877-644-9992 from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. for assistance and to find the nearest AISH office or Alberta Supports Centre


Applications are OPEN: Sterling Clarren FASD Research Award

The Prevention Conversation: A Shared Responsibility Project


The CanFASD Sterling Clarren Research Awardhas been named in honour of Dr. Sterling Clarren to recognize his pioneering contribution and leadership in the field of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

The award is presented annually to a Canadian Early Career Researcher or student in recognition of a completed study that has made a substantial contribution to the FASD field.Preference will be given to work conducted in one of Canada FASD Research Network’s (CanFASD)member provinces/territories (BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, NWT, Nunavut, and Yukon). However, Canadian researchers conducting work in other jurisdictions may also apply.

Projects must also include a knowledge translation component. Applications may be submitted by:

  • A student working in the field of FASD near the completion of their studies, or
  • An early career investigator (within 5 years of first Faculty appointment)

The study must be intended to integrate research, policy, and practice to improve the…

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Drinktank: Alcohol and pregnancy – Why doesn’t it worry us?

This article references Australia but it is certainly some food for thought…

The Prevention Conversation: A Shared Responsibility Project


Following a call for submissions to the Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC) Pregnancy warning labels on alcoholic beverages public consultation, Australian governments will shortly decide whether to mandate alcohol pregnancy warning labels on all products sold in Australia.

Currently in Australia, alcohol companies are not legally required to include pregnancy warning labels on their products, and instead choose whether or not to include any information about the harm of alcohol and pregnancy on their labels.

New market research undertaken by Hall & Partners found that the alcohol industry’s current voluntary approach to warning of the dangers of drinking during pregnancy is misleading, confusing and fails to adequately raise awareness about the risks to the unborn child.

Off the back of this research, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) has commenced campaigning for a new mandatory labelling system to complement its FRSC submission.

Today on Drink Tank, Louise Gray…

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New faces at the Network!

Ch-ch-ch-changes.pngSome exciting changes have occurred at the Network.

Jen Duperron-Trydal, who was the Community Resource Advocate, has transitioned into the role of FASD Diagnostic Coordinator. Here email is still the same, jduperron-trydal@cityofgp.com but her new number is 780-357-4996

And we are happy to announce that Sage Bagan is the new FASD Community Resource Advocate. You can reach Sage at sbagan@cityofgp.com or 780-357-7504

They are both excited to be in their new roles and looking forward to serving clients in the region!



Resource: Here Come Baby Videos

The Prevention Conversation: A Shared Responsibility Project

Here Comes Baby, is a video series for new and soon-to-be parents. The videos include:


The videos will bring together local parents, health professionals, experts to discuss the realities of life with a new baby. Expect to see some familiar faces!

Bathing Baby

This video demonstrates how to give a new baby a bath. It includes tips and tricks on how to turn bath time into an enjoyable experience for both baby and the parent or caregiver.


This video shares answers to common questions about jaundice.

Postpartum Recovery

This video shares answers to common questions about recovery in the postpartum period.  

Diaper Change Demonstration 

This video demonstrates how to change a new baby’s diaper.  It includes suggestions/tips that may make diapering safer, easier and more enjoyable for parent and baby.

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