#057 Dr. Mansfield Mela: Prenatal Alcohol Exposure: A Clinician's Guide

fasd success show Mar 08, 2021


Have you ever met a doctor, social worker, clinician or therapist who just didn’t understand Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder? Have you ever walked out of an appointment thinking, “If only they could just get it? What can I do to help them get it?” Today, I have answers for you.

I am “geeking out” big time with one of our most popular FASD Success Show guests, Dr. Mansfield Mela about his new book: Prenatal Alcohol Exposure: A Clinician’s Guide. 

Dr. Mela is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Saskatchewan. His clinical practice is out of the Forensic Outpatient Clinic at the University of Saskatchewan and the Forensic Inpatients Services at Regional Psychiatric Center. He is one of the international team of experts that created the world’s first psychotropic medication algorithm for FASD/Prenatal Alcohol Exposure. And now he is a published author. 

His interest in FASD began with a desire to better understand and assist his clients. After discussing his frustration with a colleague, he realized it was the manifestation of symptoms of Fetal Alcohol - which led him on a path of greater understanding. 

There are a lot of myths about FASD that discourage clinicians from engaging with it. 

Dr. Mela starts today’s podcast with a simple, but powerful statement: “I knew I had to write the book.”  He says this is the book that he wished he had in his possession when he was starting out.

He shares how he was led to put pen to paper after a comment made by a clinician: who said how knowing about FASD was a “waste of time”, as well as: 

  • Why clinicians are not comfortable with prenatal alcohol exposure and FASD. 
  • History of DSM and inclusion/exclusion of PAE over the years and why despite being 2.5x more common than autism, PAE appears in the back of the book, instead of "leading the parade". 
  • The importance of ruling out FASD first, rather than including it last, as a diagnosis. 

We asked individuals: Can you tell us your experience in the mental health system? Just mentioning the word FASD and the system will tell them: ‘Well we don’t deal with that here.’ You’re seen as being adequate enough to look after yourself, when you cannot, but not ill enough for a system to take you. Where do you belong?

Always a humble man, Dr. Mela gives a shoutout to caregivers, parents and individuals on the Spectrum for their role and inspiration for the book. We also touch on some of the exciting research on bio barkers and neuroimaging techniques for FASD. I know you are going to leave this podcast agreeing with Dr. Mela, that there are significant advances in FASD.  

If you want to get your own copy, while it is a hefty read, Dr. Mela does a fantastic job of breaking down each chapter. You can find a link in the Show Notes below.

We also detail how you can present this book to your doctor or clinician - to get them on board with what they can do as a person with the clinical power and clinical skills to help individuals with FASD. 

Lastly, I will leave you with another simple, but powerful statement which you should pin to your bulletin board or make your screensaver, for when you are feeling discouraged about recognition of FASD/PAE in the clinical world: 

Don’t despair. We started this journey. We are not going back.

Grab your own copy: Prenatal Alcohol Exposure: A Clinician's Guide


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