Written by the CanFASD Family Advisory Committee

“We are finally confident that people will understand what we mean when we say life is unpredictable and sometimes feels like it is spiralling out of control. It took a pandemic to have others experience what our lives are like routinely.

At a recent CanFASD Family Advisory Committee meeting, we took the opportunity to check in on everyone to find out how the strategies being implemented by the provinces and territories to “flatten the COVID-19 curve” have affected our families and us. The results were not that surprising.

Normal stressors were accentuated. Some of our children’s not so positive coping strategies were exercised regularly. Those of us who are not only caregivers, but also service providers or involved in Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), were incredibly busy.

For this blog, we share the challenges caregivers of individuals with FASD face during a pandemic. These issues are from our experience, both personal and from individuals we support in the community. They may not be reflective of all caregivers.

In terms of the less than positive coping strategies, food management has become a significant issue. Grocery bills have increased even as shortages have occurred. It is unclear if this change is a result of emotional eating, food hoarding, lack of structure, or boredom, but the kids are eating us out of house and home.

Individuals with FASD can have extreme reactions to the pandemic ranging from not understanding social distancing and hygiene measures put in place, to being afraid to go outside and even feeling that there is “no point to do anything as we are all going to die anyway”. This perceived lack of safety has a significant impact on individuals and families as it increases general anxiety and tests already challenged coping strategies. It is not only the children who may be experiencing extreme reactions. We are aware that some caregivers have difficulty teaching and enforcing safety procedures, such as hand washing and physical distancing.”

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