Every year on September 9, the international community celebrates FASD Day. September 9 is chosen to represent the 9 months that women should abstain from alcohol consumption while pregnant. This year, in preparation for FASD Day, we have interviewed some amazing people to learn a bit about how their lives have been affected by FASD. They include caregivers, researchers, policy makers, and people who have FASD.
First up, we have Jeff Noble! After confronting the challenges associated with being a caregiver, he started a company called Noble Initiatives. Noble Initiatives provides online and in person FASD training for caregivers and front-line workers across the country. Jeff has created a community of caregivers in Canada and internationally that provide support and best practices to learn and grow together.
Can you tell us a bit about what you do?
I run a company called Noble Initiatives. We provide online and in person FASD training for caregivers and front-line workers. I also give keynotes at conferences.
So, part of this is that you’ve created virtual community to support caregivers, what inspired you to create this space?
Having been a caregiver myself, I found it very isolating and lonely. I also understand the power of community. I knew that if I was going through this, there must be others going through it as well. Seeing as FASD is so prevalent, I was right. We have created an online community that is all over the world. The biggest feedback I get is that caregivers get energy and strength from knowing they’re not alone.
How has digital media allowed you to offer support to people across the world? In your experience, what has been the best platform for you to share your messages?
Social media has allowed me to send caregivers daily reminders that we understand how hard their job is and to let them know that they are not alone. It allows the caregiver to receive training on FASD directly from their phone or computer, so they don’t have to spend money on airfare/hotels or secure child care.
What have people benefited from most from your programs?
The major benefit is the renewed energy in helping advocate for their loved ones on the spectrum. They will have brand new ideas and feel recharged and ready to go. They no longer feel like they are bad parents and their kids are successful and can have a positive future. They also make lifelong friends with other caregivers going through the exact same situation and they feel acknowledged and supported.
What is the most important thing for caregivers to remember while caring for their loved ones with FASD?
That nobody is trying to be a jerk on purpose. Their kids want to please them and do well. The problem is no matter how hard they try, sometimes their brain won’t let them. It’s also important for caregivers to realize that they are not bad parents – it’s a hard job!
Find out more about Jeff and Noble Initiatives here:
Website: FASD Forever
Facebook: FASD Caregiver Success
Training: Caregiver Kick Start!