Delena Hills – Justice & Legal Services for Clients with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) (#16)

Whatever your area of expertise is, you’re going to be working with people with FASD. ~ Delena Hills

Delena Hills (web) is a speech-language pathologist working with BC’s Asante Centre. Delena works with a range of clients who have neurodevelopmental issues, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or FASD.

In this conversation, Delena provides a broad overview of the causes of FASD, and tour through the areas of the brain that can be impacted by it. She also gives us a high-level overview of the criteria the Asante Centre uses to diagnose FASD.

Delena goes beyond explaining FASD in physical and scientific terms; she also provides several examples and experiences from her work, along with powerful anecdotes and explanations shared by adults who live with FASD.

Delena encourages us to not rely on our assumptions about FASD, and urges us to keep an open mind – especially when it comes to thinking about the number of people who might be impacted or affected.

This conversation is full of practical tips and background for legal professionals who work in areas of the justice system involving people with FASD. Other legal professionals are sure to expand their knowledge in this area too, and pick up some insights on the value of seeing law and justice through the eyes of others.

Topics Covered

  1. Overview of the Asante Centre’s work
  2. Causes of FASD
  3. Criteria for FASD Diagnosis
  4. Areas of the brain affected by FASD
  5. FASD’s impacts on justice system clients 
  6. Examples and anecdotes from people with FASD
  7. Tips and practice for justice system professionals serving people with FASD
  8. Statistics on FASD

Listen to “16 Delena Hills – Justice & Legal Services for Clients with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)” on Spreaker.

The Quiz for this episode is here

Pre-approved by the Law Society of BC for 1.5 hours of CPD credits.

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Show Notes

4:22 How Delena describes what she does for a living

5:50 Intro & overview of the the Asante Centre and its services

8:20 Delena’s path into her current position

9:30 Why the Asante staff say the only experts in FASD are the people who have it

11:30 What casues FASD

12:35 Alcohol and fetal development

15:00 Criteria for FASD diagnosis

16:00 Areas of the brain affected by FASD

18:00 Lack of cognfitive impact for some people with FASD

19:40 Affect disorder / affect regulation and FASD

21:10 Memory and FASD

22:20 Adaptive behaviour

23:30 Reasons for long waiting lists for assessments for FASD

25:28 Ways FASD could lead a person into contact with the criminal justice system

28:04 High risk for no apparent reward

28:30 Impaired language skills

30:10 Language skiils and difficulty expressing requests or thoughts 

31:50 Asante project with Law Foundation to support legal system professionals

33:10 Signs a person might be impacted by FASD

43:04 Checking for understanding through active responses

39:00 Preparing clients for discussions (e.g. in court) that may be triggering for them

42:00 Building rapport and recognizing the humanity at the core of the legal issue

44:00 Diffculties with timelines, sequences of events and general awareness of time

48:10 Confabulation

50:10 Challenges planning ahead and arriving at the right place at the right time

52:00 Don’t assume or infer intention from actions (e.g. person not showing up for a meeting on time)

54:15 Visual aids for conveying information

58:00 Helping someone who can’t assume or predict what might happen in court

59:15 Podcast with Jerrod Brown

1:00:44 Helping a client associate a consequence with their behaviour or actions

1:01:50 Translating the language of court, and the lawyer-client relationship for a client with FASD

1:03:00 Preparing a client with FASD for court

1:04:00 Helping a client with FASD interpret or react appropriately to body language and tone of voice in court

1:06:40 More tips on confirming understanding through active responses

1:07:45 Learning from people with lived experience

1:12:00 Statistics about people who have been disgnosed with FASD, about people who are incarcerated, and who have come into contact with the justice system

1:14:08 Thoughts on the future for justice and people with FASD

1:19:00 What Delena would say to herself if she could send an email back in time

1:20:00 The Asante Centre’s project with the Law Foundation of BC (forthcoming)

1:21:24 How Delena defines success for herself

1:21:50 A tough choice or sacrifice Delena had to overcome to get where she is today

1:23:13 If Delena had to do a week’s worth of work in 3 hours

1:24:10 How Delena looks after herself

1:25:40 A good resource for people who are too busy to do a lot of research in this area – Myles Himmelrech’s videos

1:26:52 Before my work in the law is done, I want to…

1:27:50 Where to learn more about Delena’s work and the Asante Centre online

1:28:20 Delena’s asks / calls to action for listeners

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