#030 Sheila Burns: Turning Regret into Momentum   

fasd success show Jul 19, 2020


I’ve interviewed and learned from a lot of people over the years, but this latest podcast guest has an interesting perspective and an engaging way. This is one of my 10 timer episodes – you will want to listen at least 10 times to unpack everything Sheila Burns has to say. 

I first saw Sheila present at a Conference in Northern Ontario. She tells me her background in children’s mental health, women’s health, and community development has informed the emerging vision for FASD prevention and improved intervention in her province of Ontario (Canada). To build capacity, she developed tools to guide and reinforce best practices.  One of these tools is the My Kind of Mind booklet which we delve into later.  

Sheila has held leadership roles to address individual and systemic issues related to FASD in Ontario since 1998 including FASD Ontario Network of Expertise – Network Chair and Leads on the Diagnostic and Justice Action Groups. She held a fellowship with the Law Foundation of Ontario and is a member of the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services FASD Expert Group.  

After attending her first workshop presentation on FASD she had an epiphany:  

When I heard about the impact of alcohol on the developing fetus, I saw the overlap it had with the women who came to the programs that I managed, and I thought we are doing a really poor job of telling women that they should avoid alcohol during their pregnancies.

This realization was a “sucker-punch” - ½ her career had been spent missing the disability. We talk about how that impacted her, her work, and:  

  • The grief and loss she experienced and why it was necessary to reframe her guilt – which is unhelpful, into regret – which builds momentum; 
  • What her guiding principles for service provision are that led her to develop a provincial network to collaborate and cooperate with a shared vision for FASD; and
  • Her desire to simplify a very complex disability for caregivers to empower not only them to talk to professionals but to provide a roadmap for success for their children and families.

Her curious and intuitive nature that led her to develop My Kind of Mind – a resource to help caregivers and individuals with FASD understand how their mind works and what they need. 

We are expecting individuals with some known vulnerabilities to manage and cope and I want us to give them the words and the framework for all of us to support them better. And that’s what My Kind of Mind is designed to do.”

There are so many quotable pieces and interesting insights in this podcast. You are just going to have to listen and listen again. And let me know what you think.  

Show Notes: 

My Kind of Mind



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