FASD Assessment Support
Going through an FASD assessment can be challenging.
Through an Aboriginal Lens (TAL) support workers assist youth and their families in understanding what FASD is. We walk through each step of the assessment with them and then continue our support after the assessment in anyway the youth and their families deem necessary.
Understand Your Diagnosis
Understanding an FASD diagnosis is complicated.
TAL support workers assist youth and their families in understanding the complex FASD diagnosis. Guided by Indigenous values of patience, care, respect and love TAL help the youth build upon their strengths to ensure their challenges are not every day struggles.
Accessing supports and services when living with concurrent health and justice challenges can be confusing.
We advocate for Indigenous youth and families to successfully access services provided by Legal Aid, Ministry of Social Development & Social Innovation, Ministry of Children and Family Development, First Nations Health Authority and other grass root community based services such as food banks, shelters and friendship centres.
Build Positive Sense of Identity
Many youth have been in ministry care and/or do not have experience with an Indigenous culture or teachings. They often do not have a positive sense of who they are as an Indigenous person.
TAL support workers help youth and their families understand FASD is not exclusive to Indigenous people or a part of Indigenous identity. TAL invite Elders and knowledgeable people to share cultural teachings that are connected to the youth’s birth culture, whenever possible. TAL provides youth the opportunity to experience spiritual cleansing ceremonies, time on the land and Indigenous foods, medicines and arts.
Navigating the criminal justice system is complicated.
TAL provides youth information about the youth, adult and family justice systems and court processes. We work to ensure youths’ rights are protected against the various systemic challenges encountered in the justice system when living with concurrent socio-economic, health and cultural barriers.
Community Capacity Building
Change or making allowances in programming is hard, but for youth living with FASD, constantly failing in standardized mainstream programming is even harder.
As part of the youth’s Integrated Case Management Team, TAL support workers provide recommendations to the team that take into account an individual youth’s strengths and challenges. We utilize current community supports/programs and aid them in making service delivery changes that are more meaningful and culturally appropriate for the youth.
Service Provider Support
FASD is acknowledged by service providers, but for many, it is still a challenge to fully understand the difficulties youth have with basic day-to-day tasks and direction.
TAL support workers assist service providers in understanding an individual youth’s strengths and challenges. TAL assist service providers in creating culturally appropriate strategies that will support the youth. The Asante Centre and Through an Aboriginal Lens learn from each other on FASD and on providing a more culturally sensitive approach during the assessment.
Through an Aboriginal Lens (TAL) is the only program in BC developed by and for Aboriginal people that provides a comprehensive, culturally sensitive service for the Indigenous youth that are annually referred by Youth Probation Officers in the Lower Mainland to the Asante Centre for a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) assessment. TAL provides support to at-risk Indigenous youth referred to the Asante Centre’s Youth Justice FASD Program. These youth often experience co-existing substance abuse and other life harms.
Through an Aboriginal Lens was successfully implemented in 2014 by Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of British Columbia in partnership with the Asante Centre in Maple Ridge, BC. The Asante Centre is a leader in British Columbia and Canada on FASD, offering medical assessment and diagnostic services, family and community support, education and training, research projects and resource development. The Asante Centre provides initial support helping the youth and their caregivers with information on how to understand their diagnosis.
Recognizing the need for a more targeted approach for the Indigenous youth that are referred to Asante Centre, we provide justice and Aboriginal specific interventions, supporting the Asante Centre’s efforts in 3 significant areas:
- Provide assistance to Indigenous youth, their families, and communities at point of contact with or referral to Asante Centre and throughout the youth’s experience within their justice involvement to understand the impact of their FASD, co-existing substance abuse and other life harms.
- Provide information to Asante Centre and participants on justice issues as they pertain to their FASD diagnosis, co-existing substance abuse and other life harms (Asante’s assessments are community-based, not justice specific).
- Provide collaboration on development of resource tools and activities that will support the Indigenous community, care-givers and the youth themselves in understanding what living with an FASD diagnosis, co-existing substance abuse and other life harms means.
The issues of alcohol abuse and FASD are front and centre in our efforts to bring healing to Indigenous youth who are in conflict with the law. About 1% of Canadian children are born with some form of disability related to prenatal alcohol consumption. Estimates from Canada and the United States suggest that 15% to 20% of people in prison have FASD. TAL addresses a service gap for Indigenous youth who have recently been referred to the Asante Centre for a FASD assessment by youth probation officers in the Lower Mainland. The program supports their rehabilitation and reintegration within an appropriate cultural context, providing assistance to family members, guardians, and community members. The program builds the capacity of participating youth to help them transition from involvement with the law to rehabilitation and reintegration into the community.
The overall objectives of TAL are to create an awareness and understanding of the intersection between an FASD diagnosis, co-existing substance use and other life harms and justice involvement among Indigenous youth, to develop individual strategies for each youth assessed to ensure their successful navigation through the justice system and assessment process, and to reduce the number of First Nations and Indigenous children with FASD who are removed from their immediate or extended family and community by the Ministry.
The long term goals of TAL are to:
- Increase resources for community organizations, service providers and youth living with FASD; Increase community organizations’ awareness regarding NCCABC’s capacity to provide the judicial system’s first contact for information and assistance when they believe they are working with a young Indigenous offender that may be living with FASD.
- Through an Aboriginal Lens support is holistic in nature and rooted in an Indigenous worldview, values and teachings. We provide support to youth and their families before, during and after the FASD assessment. We assist youth in reconnecting with their birth family, birth community and culture. We help reduce the number of youth with FASD entering into Ministry care and their involvement with the criminal justice system. We educate and encourage youth, families and communities about the causes of FASD, and in selecting supportive lifestyle choices.
To learn more about how this project can assist you and/or your family, please contact Samaya Jardey, Program Manager, 604-985-5355 ext. 309 or 604-219-6640.