Regina: FASD conference is a first of its kind

FASD conference is a first of its kind

When Dorothy Reid’s adoptive sons were diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder it was hard for her family.

FASD is a permanent disability that occurs when women drink alcohol during their pregnancy. It manifests in the children of those women through difficulties in decision and judgement making and reactions to social situations. This week a first of it’s kind FASD conference is being held in Regina.

For Reid she found herself having a hard time finding the right support services for her sons. As they grew up they wanted more independence.

“The services just were not available and the kids wanted to be independent. But it really was difficult to find the supports in the community to allow them to be independent successfully or to be supported,” Reid said.

As the years went on her sons struggled with school, drug addictions and gang involvement. When her youngest son was 23 he died of a drug overdoes.

“My older son is living in Vancouver now. It’s taken him a number of years but he’s living relatively successfully now,” Reid said.

Reid used to live in Saskatoon but now lives in Abbotsford, BC and has a masters degree in clinical psychology. She has worked in the worked in the federal correction system where she has encountered many people with FASD.

She is now involved with the Canada FASD Research Network and was instrumental in the planning of the organizations conference happening in Regina this week at the University of Regina. The conference is entitled “Learning Together” and is meant to bring researchers, people with FASD and their caregivers together to talk.

“(Researchers) don’t often have an opportunity to hear directly from caregivers about what are the priorities are in the field. So we felt that was really important to bring the two groups together to have that conversation,” said Audrey McFarlane, executive director of Canada FASD Research Network.

The conference is different from most. The first two days will include round table discussions between the groups. The last day will focus on what the government and policy peoples interests are in regards to FASD.

“At the end of it we hope to be able to produce a report that can be available to anyone in the research field that might be applying for future grants to look and say, ‘Oh these are the key priorities that families and government people need,” McFarlane said.

The conference is a first of it’s kind and Reid sees it as important to help those affected by FASD.

“If I had had access to the information (when my sons were younger) that I have now, I think the outcomes could have been quite different,” she said.

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