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AVITH in Context Webinar: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

In a recent AVITH in Context Webinar, Professor Anita Gibbs from the University of Otago, NZ, shed light on a crucial yet often overlooked issue: the intersection of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), a neurodevelopmental condition, and child-to-parent violence and abuse (CAPVA).

Professor Gibbs, drawing from her academic research and, her role as the adoptive mother of two young people with FASD and additional neurodivergent disabilities, shared invaluable insights during the webinar. Attendees were particularly appreciative to hear of her lived experience, finding resonance in her firsthand accounts and strategies for coping with violent outbursts and meltdowns. By bringing together academic expertise and personal experience, Professor Gibbs brought a unique depth to the discussion, encouraging a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by families and individuals affected by FASD.

Key discussion points

Attendees gained insights into the primary issues associated with FASD, including its effects on executive, social, and adaptive functioning. The webinar also addressed the secondary challenges often accompanying FASD, such as the presenting signs often overlapping with complex trauma or other neurodevelopmental conditions.

Professor Gibbs underscored the importance of accurate clinical assessment, highlighting common issues of misidentification, often leading to inadequate support and entry into the justice system. The profound impacts of FASD on caregivers and implications for placements in out-of-home care settings were also explored.

Practical strategies and resources

Practical strategies for caregivers to manage violent outbursts and meltdowns were discussed, acknowledging the significant challenges they face in day-to-day life. Additionally, attendees were provided with valuable resources, including Professor Gibbs’ 2024 research based on interviews with caregivers, Understanding the Ten Brain Domains Affected By FASD, and effective interventions available through organisations like NOFASD Australia.

Implications and moving forward

The webinar served as a vital platform for frontline staff, researchers, and policymakers to deepen their understanding of FASD and its implications for child-to-parent violence.

By adopting a strengths-based, social model approach, Professor Gibbs emphasised the importance of accommodating difference and advocating for disability rights frameworks; integrating this knowledge into practices and policies is imperative to ensure interventions are tailored to the unique needs of individuals with FASD and their families, creating more inclusive and equitable systems for all.

For more resources, visit the AVITH Knowledge Hub and explore their catalogue of webinar recordings on the AVITH in Context page.

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