Adult FASD clinic now open

Adults needing an assessment for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder will no longer have to travel to the Lower Mainland.

An assessment clinic opened in Vernon this week and they are already getting clients.

Bernadette O'Donnell is the executive director for Spec-Team Assessment Society which is sharing an office with Independent Living in the People Place building, and she said the clinic is already making a difference.

“A client said to me this morning, 'You mean I don't have to live like this anymore,” she said.

“People are already being assessed. It's a fascinating op for the Interior to finally have access to this service. We have been waiting a long time for this to happen.”

O'Donnell said there are assessment procedures in place for children, but this is the first in the area for adults.

FASD are a group of conditions that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol heavily during pregnancy. Problems may include an abnormal appearance, short height, low body weight, small head size, poor co-ordination, low intelligence, behaviour problems and problems with hearing or seeing.

“Recent statistics tell us that two to four per cent of the population have undiagnosed FASD. Right now, B.C. only has one adult assessment clinic and that is in Vancouver and people who are living in the Interior have all sorts of barriers to access it,” said O'Donnell, adding Vernon was selected for the clinic because of its central location as there are plans to operate mobile clinics in Kelowna and Kamloops.

The assessment panel is comprised of doctors Rod Densmore and Kim McGuire, occupational therapist Ann Ross and social worker Lisa Kongsdorf.

Elders from local First Nations will also be available to help with assessments if requested.

Referral forms can be picked up at the office, 3402 27 Ave., which will be open Tuesday to Friday.

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