by CC Duncan As a behaviour management consultant I appreciated the Peak running the story “Incident sparks call for awareness” on December 29, 2010.
When I first moved to Powell River in 2007 I thought “what an incredible place to raise a family.” I still do. I also believe with smaller communities there is opportunity for unity, support and help in raising all children.
For many years I have been involved with children exhibiting behavioural challenges and one of the most heartbreaking are those with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), perhaps because it is preventable.
Education can prevent children being born with FASD. If anyone is open to learning more about FASD, what it is and how it can be prevented, there are resources in Powell River through Powell River Child, Youth and Family Services Society, Powell River Association for Community Living and myself. Another great resource is the Internet and if education means a child not having to struggle with the effects and challenges of FASD, let’s educate.
Sometimes there are no obvious signs that a child has FASD. FASD is often referred to as “the invisible disability” and unless you know, have or work with a child with FASD it may be difficult to understand what the effects are. Damage creating FASD happens to the brain before birth. However, these children are not broken—there is no fixing to be done. FASD is what they have, not who they are.
For every child with FASD each developmental stage from the day they are born presents different challenges than those of a typical child. The unbelievable hurdles that these children have to face each and every day, each and every hour can be mind blowing and how they’re able to navigate through any given day—try to imagine a constant headache with non-stop flashing lights.
Their daily challenges can range from angry outbursts (sometimes not knowing from where it comes), sleeping disorders, attention deficient hyperactivity and learning disorders (school environments and additional stimuli are major stressors), anxiety (often not knowing why), sensory issues (sometimes where touch literally triggers meltdowns), information processing and forgetfulness (no they don’t do it intentionally). Daily routines and skills have to be learned over and over again as if each day meant rebooting the computer except the memory is not always there.
Can you imagine how physically draining this can be to parents and caregivers and what about the child? While there is much caring, many tears are shed raising children with FASD.
Love, patience and nurturing has continued to be the number one thing for which children, once becoming adults with FASD, have shared that they are grateful. Crystal and Shawn Gallant and many other parents appear to be asking for understanding, acceptance and awareness.
Why do children exhibit challenging behaviours? There is always a reason why such behaviours happen. But under it all each child is cute, laughs and smiles like every other child. Each has talents, beauty, intelligence and creativity for us to enjoy.
CC Duncan is a behaviour management consultant working with children with special needs, and can be contacted at 604.483.9867 or through her website at www.4children.ca.