Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Research

A Message to Our Families (COVID-19, BLM, and George Floyd)

To all families involved in our FASD research, 

We are reaching out to you to offer connection and support in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the civil actions and unrest sweeping the country, and the urgent conversations around race and racism that are broadly occurring.  These are unprecedented times, and we recognize the added challenges you are facing now as parents, supporting your children while experiencing significant stress and strong emotions yourselves. We have links to child-centric resources below that may help you during this time.

As University researchers and clinicians working in the area of FASD, we are acutely aware of the insidious effects of social inequities, societal biases, prejudices, structural barriers to fairness, institutional racism, and all of the negative effects that follow for one’s physical, mental, spiritual, and societal health. We acknowledge our own biases, our contributions to these societal ills, and our commitment to continuing to work to address them directly in ourselves and through our work. 

We work in a field in which colleagues of color remain underrepresented. Research itself suffers from unequal engagement / participation rates across groups. As FASD researchers, we study a condition that compounds the existing challenges faced by communities of color and one that is largely misunderstood by the criminal justice system, to the gross detriment of individuals, families, and society. A major drive of our work is to address this lack of understanding with the goal that all individuals are treated as such, with a full and empathetic understanding of their inherent value and identity. We recommit ourselves to this goal and to better representing a diverse community of voices in our work. 

To families who have been and continue to be hurt by racial injustices: we see you, we support you, and we will work to amplify your voices. To families impacted by civil unrest and community loss, we understand and share the complex mix of emotions you are feeling. To families less directly affected by current events and/or those who may be struggling to come to grips with the upheaval, we recognize that you too have been seriously impacted. The emotional toll of this moment is profound and shared. Likewise shared is our commitment to building a better and more just future for our children. In the scientific work that we do, it is your commitment and strength that make this possible...so from the bottom of our hearts: Thank you all for letting us be a part of your lives and your children’s lives.

We would like to offer some resources in regard to managing stress in children, educating children on racism, and providing different ways you and your family can get involved. Please let us know of any educational materials, resources, or organizations that you have found helpful during this time. We will gladly share these on our website. 


Managing Stress in Children:

Mindfulness meditation for children : click here

An Age-by-Age guide to helping kids manage emotions: click here

How to check in with your child emotionally through the pandemic: click here

A Message from the U of MN on parenting during COVID-19: click here

 

Educating Children on Race: 

1. CNN and Sesame Street are partnering for a town hall special on Standing up to Racism. This will be broadcast Saturday Morning (6/6/2020) at 9am Central Standard Time. If you missed the live showing, click here to watch. 

2. Here is a list of books that can help with conversations with your children regarding race and resistance. Each book has the appropriate age range in the description. Click here

3. Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein recently created a great list of anti-racism resources. It includes many links on topics such as resources for parents to raise anti-racist children along with different articles, videos, social media sites, and podcasts. Click here

4. For parents and older children: Here is an article on 75 things white people can do for racial justice. 

 

If you are interested in ways to become more involved in the community, please see the below resources.

* We would like to acknowledge and prioritize safety during this time as we are still amidst the  COVID-19 pandemic. We have categorized the following resources based on risk of exposure.*

 

Low Risk

Supplies/ Food Donations: Click here for an interactive map of places around the Twin cities that are looking for donations. Many offer no-contact drop-off.

Organizations to Donate to in the Twin Cities

  1. Cities Care Collective - South-Minneapolis based rad worker-owned childcare co-op working to provide easy access childcare by and for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and queer organizers and families.

  2. Minnesota Healing Justice Network - We provide a supportive professional community and mutual aid network for wellness and healing justice practitioners who also identify as IBPOC (indigenous, black, or people of color).

  3. Northside business support - support businesses on Minneapolis’s Northside that have been impacted by recent demonstrations.

Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge: For 21 days, do one action to further your understanding of power, privilege, supremacy, oppression, and equity. The tracker and a list of suggestions can be found here

 

Medium Risk 

Support the Cities is an excellent Facebook page that posts events daily regarding where donations are needed/what donations are needed,  clean-up efforts, and links to sign up for volunteering opportunities around the Twin Cities. Click here

Shop/eat at black owned businesses across the Twin Cities. Find a list of restaurants, services, cafes, etc. here

 

High Risk 

ProtestingHere’s an article on how to do so in the midst of the pandemic. 

 

We welcome any feedback during this time. Please feel free to reach out to us either via email or our website. We are always looking for ways that we can improve. Thank you all for your support and we hope to see you again soon. 

 

Sincerely, 

The U of MN FASD Research Team 

 

 

COVID 19 UPDATE

We are now resuming study visits based on University approval and public health guidelines. We are in the process of contacting study participants to reschedule visits that were cancelled due to COVID-19. Information about some of the safety precautions being taken in research at the University can be found here. Please contact us at fasd@umn.edu with any questions. 

 

What we do

  • We use the latest brain imaging techniques and neurodevelopmental tests to study the brain changes caused by prentatal alcohol exposure.
  • We are investigating the effects of computerized cognitive training and neuromodulation (mild electrical current) on the scalp on brain development in FASD.
  • We are testing nutritional interventions with the goal to optimize brain development in young children with FASD.

 

Our research team

 

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Colorful Diffusion Tensor Image of the brain

Colorful Diffusion Tensor Image of the brain