The National Association for the Dually Diagnosed (NADD) International Congress: giving the ancient practice of mindfulness a surprising new application

TORONTO, April 12 /CNW/ – A very ancient and effective practice – mindfulness – is being given a new and surprising application. For the first time ever, mindfulness is being used to reduce the likelihood of aggressive behaviour in people with developmental disabilities as well as mental health problems.

NADD (national association for the dually diagnosed), a North American association for persons with developmental disabilities and mental health needs, is bringing experts in this innovative research on the salutary effects of mindfulness to its 2010 International Congress in Toronto this week.

Approximately 380,000 Canadians live with Dual Diagnosis, coping with developmental disabilities such as downs syndrome, fetal Alcohol syndrome or autism spectrum disorders at the same time as mental health challenges like depression or bipolar disorder. Some of them are non-verbal. For a small but significant minority of these individuals, serious aggressive behaviours or self-injury are a significant problem, often related to frustrated communications. [more]

[Minnesota] A young man with a gun gives us all reason to learn about fetal alcohol syndrome

April 12, 2010
Winona, Minn. — By Lindalee Soderstrom
Minnesota Public Radio

When I read Friday morning’s article in the Hastings Star Gazette about the child in Hastings, Minn., who displayed a gun at his middle school, I was touched that he came back to his classroom. He even broke glass trying to get back in. The teacher, who had locked the door after the student left the first time, calmly kept asking the child what he could do for him.

One might not think of a 14-year-old middle schooler as a child. But I am the adoptive mom of a young man, now 24 years old, who was diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) at birth. I know that the adaptive daily living skills and social/emotional development of someone with FAS is often deemed to be one-half that of someone their biological age.

So this 14-year-old in Hastings, who has not been identified but is described as showing symptoms of FAS, may have the capacities of a 7- to 8-year-old — and not a normal 7- to 8-year-old, but one with unique and invisible special needs. [more]

Drinking during pregnancy 'could increase epilepsy risk'

Women who drink during pregnancy could be increasing the risk of their child developing epilepsy, a study has indicated.

By Matthew Moore
Published: 7:30AM BST 06 Apr 2010
Telegraph (UK)

The research found that children who suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) – a condition caused by maternal drinking during pregnancy – were six times more likely to suffer from epilepsy as they grew older.

They were also more likely to suffer at least one seizure at some point in their lives. 

Previous research has indicated a connection between drinking during pregnancy and rates of alcoholism, drug abuse, depression and even Parkinson’s and stroke.
Neuroscientists said the latest study added to growing understanding about the risks posed to unborn babies by mothers’ alcohol consumption, but added that it was difficult to establish a causal link between drinking and epilepsy. [more]

Retired teacher targets child abuse

APRIL 5, 2010
Muncie Star-Press

MUNCIE — It doesn’t take much.

Holding one of the dolls that serves as a training aid in the fight against child abuse, Maryellen Frazier gave it a few shakes — sharp ones, perhaps, but hardly anything to match what a furious caregiver might deliver in a flash of rage aimed at a bawling, inconsolable baby.

Just like that, the doll’s brain, visible through its clear plastic skull, lit up with flashing red lights.

The damage — maybe blindness, maybe something far worse — had been done, or would have been were this a real baby.

“They even smell like real babies,” said Frazier, president of the Prevent Child Abuse Council of Delaware County, while other dolls representing drug-addicted and fetal-alcohol syndrome babies rested on a table in her living room.

While these dolls serve to teach young people something about abusive treatment of children, the problem is growing in ways that are much harder to comprehend. [more]

[Alaska] Booze sales endanger Kotzebue and surrounding villages

Jared MIller
Apr 4, 2010
Alaska Dispatch

Our small rural town, located 26 miles inside the Arctic Circle in Northwest Alaska, is in for some big changes this summer. Last fall in the local municipal elections, Kotzebue voters legalized the local sale and distribution of alcohol. Kotzebue is now officially and legally “wet.” This change comes after more than 20 years of Kotzebue’s “damp” status, which banned the local sale but not the importation of alcohol. Before last fall’s vote, Kotzebue had not been wet since 1987.

Some townspeople thought that establishing a liquor distribution center and city-owned liquor store, scheduled to open in June, would decrease a currently thriving local bootlegging industry as well as alcohol abuse in local households.

Last fall’s alcohol vote was controversial. Some say that legal alcohol sales will increase alcohol abuse, including among underage drinkers, and also in the villages surrounding Kotzebue. Others believe it is a good idea to create a local tax revenue stream from local alcohol sales, but those selling booze locally also might expect to make some handsome personal profits. I believe Kotzebue should stop importing alcohol completely. I have witnessed first-hand the effects of alcohol abuse on people. Alcohol wastes money while it tears families apart with its abuse. [more]

[Wyoming] Why should we care about childhood drinking?

NANCY FREUDENTHAL – Perspective | Posted: Saturday, April 3, 2010 12:00 am
Wyoming Star-Tribune

April is National Alcohol Awareness Month and it is the month when many communities in Wyoming will be hosting town hall meetings focused on childhood drinking. This is very appropriate because nearly 29 percent of our children under 13 started to drink in Wyoming. Why should we care?

Childhood drinking is estimated to cost Wyoming $152.6 million annually, with the largest costs associated with youth violence and traffic crashes. This number doesn’t quantify the losses in education investment, and the potential for addiction problems into the future. Why should we care? A 25 percent reduction in teen drinking could save Wyoming $38.15 million per year. More people would be alive and in better health today with a reduction in childhood drinking.

In Wyoming, an estimated two homicides; 1,200 nonfatal violent crimes such as rape, robbery and assault; and 3,100 property crimes including burglary, larceny and car theft involve an underage-drinking perpetrator. Why should we care? A 25 percent reduction in these crimes from childhood drinking could mean you, your family, your neighborhood and your property are safer. [more]

Native women fight to reclaim equality

By Dolores Cox
New York, Published Mar 31, 2010 5:41 PM
Workers’ World

The National Museum of the American Indian celebrated Women’s History Month by paying tribute to the first woman to become president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. Cecelia Fire Thunder lives on the Pine Ridge reservation and was in New York to attend the United Nations Conference on the Status of Women.

Now the former president, she recalled how, when elected in 2004, she was the target of much opposition and political attacks from the men in the tribe, who tried to impeach her. In December 2005, though, the Tribal Council voted to dismiss the impeachment ruling and she was reinstated. She also received support from tribal leaders throughout the country.

Fire Thunder greeted the audience in her native tongue. She told of growing up in a family and clan that always insisted on practicing and maintaining the language, values and traditions of their people. [more]

[BC] Seclusion, restraint not effective on violent kids

Review finds use of ‘calm-down’ room increases likelihood of recurrence

MARCH 29, 2010

A specialized Vancouver facility for 16 of the most disruptive elementary students in the school district has seen a dramatic spike in the use of its seclusion room to control children acting out violently.

Staff placed students in a segregation or “calm-down” room at Alderwood Family Development Centre 64 times in 2008, compared to only eight times the previous year. The increase was so dramatic it prompted a review of the practice.

Children placed at Alderwood generally have a history of acting out violently, may have mental health issues, have witnessed or been the victims of violence, or suffer from conditions such as fetal alcohol syndrome.

The review concluded that seclusion and restraint are not effective interventions, and that they “actually increase the likelihood that it will be used again in the future.” (Restraint refers to physically holding children to prevent them from acting out.) [more]

[Nebraska] Wasted In Whiteclay

By Karla Ramaekers
Published: March 23, 2010, 10:05 PM
Keloland Television

WHITECLAY, NE – A town so small it’s unincorporated and claims less than 15 full-time residents is a source of turmoil for an entire tribe of people. Whiteclay, Nebraska, sits just 400 yards off of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and has no schools, no churches and no public bathrooms. But four establishments sell 4.1 million cans of beer each year to the men and women who live on the nearby ‘dry’ reservation.

“It is a third-world country. We don’t have to go to Haiti, we don’t have to go to Africa, it’s right there, in Nebraska,” substance abuse expert Terryl Blue-White Eyes said.

Just two miles south of Pine Ridge, the tiny village of Whiteclay, Nebraska, is a dumping ground for empty bottles and a meeting place for people who spend their days under the influence.

“It has no other purpose. Except to sell alcohol,” Blue-White Eyes said.

Blue-White Eyes says four establishments along Whiteclay’s street sell more than 4,100,000 cans of beer every year, most to members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

“We talk about a dry reservation, and we’re not a dry reservation. You know, economically, we’re affected physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually,” Blue-White Eyes said.

Though the problems stem from another state, the impact is felt in the town of Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Eight out of every 10 families deals with alcoholism, and children are four-times more likely to be born with fetal-alcohol syndrome. [more]

[Manitoba] FASD breeds bitter frustration

By: Robert Marshall
20/03/2010 1:00 AM
Winnipeg Free Press

Raymond Crowder was born in 1982 and doomed to die early.

Ray suffered from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder because his biological mother drank heavily during her pregnancy. The booze was passed onto Raymond, still in the womb. She was drunk when he was born. So was he, in fact, as drunk as she was.

Ray’s brain was ruined from Day 1.

It’s an odd disorder. Researchers, labs and bags of money aren’t needed to find the “cure.” It’s a choice of drinking or not during pregnancy.

It sounds like a simple choice given that choosing booze can mean setting up a child for a life of unnecessary misery. Expensive misery. Each case of FASD means $1.5-million in social expenses. In Canada, it will take $600 billion to deal with the current caseload. And new cases arrive daily. [more]