FASD Learning Series, Session 3: FASD and secondary challenges completed!

FASD Learning Series, Session 3: FASD and secondary challenges

On May 26th, 2021, SFNFCI hosted the third session of the FASD virtual learning series. The series is part of the action items of this year’s disability research project funded by Indigenous Services Canada (ISC). Shana Mohr, Robyn Pitawanakwat, and Dr. Michelle Stewart were back as co-presenters for the session. We had 23 participants from various CFS agencies and SFNFCI networks attend the session. Elder Ernestine Starr opened the session with a prayer and was available for support throughout the session.

In the last two sessions, we unpacked some of the stigmas around prenatal alcohol exposure and the primary challenges of FASD. The third session continued the conversation on how the stigma and lack of knowledge on the primary challenges of FASD can cultivate the secondary challenges. The secondary challenges also referred to as secondary disabilities, are the ones that may not be expressed or evident at birth but may arise at later stages of child development, adolescence, and adulthood. Some of the secondary challenges associated with FASD discussed in the session included mental health problems, substance use issues, difficulties in education and employment, and troubles with the justice system. 

We also talked about comorbidities, which is terminology used to describe more than one disorder in the same individual. For example, if a person is diagnosed with FASD and social anxiety disorder (SAD), the person is said to have comorbid FASD and anxiety. Comorbidities can be common in a person with FASD and people with FASD are often diagnosed with mental health issues such as Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), drug or alcohol misuse/abuse, social anxiety, and depression. Knowing that these disorders can co-exist is an important step to understanding some of the secondary challenges and for early interventions.


Finally, we had the opportunity to discuss examples and strategies of what FASD-informed practice can look like. Following are few examples shared by participants:

  1. Be adaptable to address specific needs,

  2. Do not use a one-size-fits-all approach, rather have a one-on-one with individuals to understand their unique needs

  3. While FASD is a complex disability, getting the right supports should not be complex. Simplify the process of getting services and supports.

  4. Provide adequate and accommodating housing

  5. Send awareness information such as pamphlets to schools, treatment centres, etc.

  6. Be aware of how the physical space is impacting the person and modify physical environments if needed

  7. Understand that there is more than one way to communicate and many individuals with FASD are visual thinkers so using plain, simple, and visual mode of communication.

Participants feedback:

“[Breakout] rooms-it gives us time to actually meet new people/s”

“I liked the fact that these sessions got me thinking about my own life and the people who I live with and the different knowledge acquired when it comes to FASD”


To learn more about the disabilities research project click here.

To learn about the FASD learning series click here.

If you need more info or assistance, please contact our researcher Anuja Thapa @ (306) 250-0740 or via email at anuja@sfnfci.ca or program coordinator Lacey Kaysaywaysemat @ (306) 526- 2566 or via email at lacey@sfnfci.ca





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