#100 A Meeting with My Mentor: 10 FASD Tips from Donna Debolt

fasd success show Mar 21, 2022

This episode is a celebration. It marks the 100th episode of The FASD Success Show but more importantly, and on a personal note, it brings me to the person who was the catalyst for my own professional FASD journey – Donna Debolt. This will also be a 100-timer episode. It is filled with so many aha moments, thought-provoking questions and insight gained over 32 years. But before we get to some teasers, let me introduce you. 


Donna Debolt is a social worker in private practice. She translated 30 years working in Child Protection into becoming an outspoken advocate for individuals with prenatal alcohol exposure. In her role as an FASD Specialist, Donna challenges the Systems to develop and implement prevention, intervention, and management strategies so that families and communities can successfully cope and plan for meaningful futures for these individuals with complex needs. In addition to her private practice, Donna has developed curriculum and taught at Lethbridge College, provided clinical support to a nationally recognized justice project and has overseen an innovative research program targeting practice standards that is hoped will create expertise in Child Welfare practice and improve outcomes for children and youth suspected or diagnosed with FASD.  

If you think of the best outcomes for individuals with FASD, very few of them happen by just letting it happen. Everything happens when it is planned and when people really pay attention to the developmental needs of individuals, and we organize expectations around that. 

Without further ado, I present to you, 10 things you will learn about Donna and FASD: 

  1. Thoughts on grief and loss and where she finds joy in this work.  
  2. What about consequences, expectations, and building new skills?  
  3. Donna’s take on enabling and interdependence.  
  4. The importance of telling your truth and changing your mind.  
  5. Success factors for individuals with FASD, caregivers and professionals.  
  6. What she really thinks about Strategies Not Solutions and how it should be formatted.  
  7. The two most “dangerous” words people use about individuals with FASD.  
  8. Why does she tell caregivers/professionals to be the thermostat, not the thermometer?   
  9. Advice for people who want to teach or consult with others about FASD.  
  10. Her dream for FASD and this work.  

 You will also get the real story behind sound bites as we play a game of my side of the story versus your side of the story. Donna will provide you with the two questions she ends every training session with – that you can use to create your own personalized sound bites for your situation. 

I’ve never met anyone who said they’d benefit from consequences, but we still have entire systems that build their intervention philosophies on the whole construct around consequences. The “system” hasn’t given up on that yet. What will it take for us to give up what we wished this was and take on what it really is. 

The critical message emerging from her work is the need to establish sound FASD Informed Practice to support the often-complex needs of children, adolescents, and adults with FASD. Donna believes that most innovative programs are created through collaboration and through sharing experiences and skills we will create improved outcomes for individuals and their families. 

I can’t begin to tell you what an honour it was to have Donna agree to come on the Show. Although she is a fantastic presenter, she shies away from interviews. I think you will agree there was no better person to be my number 100 than Donna Debolt.

Show Notes: 

Contact: Donna Debolt, BSW, RSW, Debolt Consulting [email protected] 

Check out our Facebook Page:  FASD Caregiver Success 

Join our Facebook Group: FASD Caregiver Success Group 

Follow me on Twitter: @JeffjNoble 

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