#062 The FASD Justice League: Doctors McLachlan and Flannigan

fasd success show Apr 12, 2021

In the 1996 landmark study by Dr. Anne Streissguth, it was revealed that up to 60% of individuals with FASD will have contact with the justice system. Youth are 19x more likely to be incarcerated compared to youth without FASD. In Canada, justice-related costs are among the highest FASD associated costs. While not everyone with FASD will be involved, it is a significant number. Today I talk to two researchers who devote their time to examining justice and FASD. 

Dr. Kaitlyn McLachlan, MA, PhD. is an Assistant Professor in the Clinical Psychology program at the University of Guelph, holds an adjunct faculty affiliation the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University, and is a member of the Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.  

Katherine Flannigan, PhD, R. Psych. is a Registered Psychologist in Alberta and British Columbia and is a Research Associate with the Canada FASD Research Network.  

Even if your child or the person you support is not involved in the justice system, it is still good to know the latest information and research. Drs. McLachlan and Flannigan recently completed a study: Difficulties in Daily Living Experienced by Adolescents, Transition Aged Youth and Adults with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. We discuss their research, the Study, if individuals with FASD are more likely to get in trouble or stay in trouble, and so much more: 

The folks who end up in the criminal justice system have so many needs and such complexities it’s so important that we use evidence-based decision making and policy applications to help improve outcomes for them, for their families, for communities, for Society, and this felt like a major vacuum and gap that needed to be addressed.   

  • What exactly is Forensic Psychology and what it can tell us.  
  • Reasons for their study and reasons why 30 – 60% of individuals with FASD have some form of contact with the Justice system.  
  • Risk factors affecting individuals' involvement and possible solutions that can make things fair for individuals within the criminal justice process.  

We don’t have great data that lets us say, if ‘a’ happens, then ‘b’ happens, then ‘c’ is going to happen. But we do have good tools and approaches for understanding if all of these things are happening, we need to address them so that we can improve the outcomes and reduce risk in different areas.  

This is a “heavy” topic. Probably one of the most technical of my podcasts so far. I do my best to break down the language, but you are going to need to reduce your distractions for this one. There is a lot of information to absorb, but the passion Kaitlyn and Katy have is clear. They are working to improve outcomes for individuals, caregivers and communities.   

They have some interesting thoughts on assessments throughout the lifespan and give us a sneak peek at a new study they are conducting right now looking at factors that contribute to the understanding of not only individuals with FASD within the justice system but also judges, lawyers and others. I even appoint the Doctors as Minister and Deputy Minister of Justice to get their thoughts on what they think needs to shift within the system.  

I talk a lot about looking for individual’s strengths when supporting individuals with FASD. Kaitlyn and Katy echo a paradigm shift is required from a medical model of FASD to a strength-based perspective. Going from what is wrong to what is right and then determine where we want to go.  

And stay tuned to the end as always for a wrap-up and my thoughts and check out our Show Notes for a link to the CanFASD webinar: Understanding FASD in the Criminal Justice System: A Research Update. 

Show Notes:

Webinar: Understanding FASD in the Criminal Justice System: A Research Update

Join us: FASD Caregiver Success Support Group


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