Dufferin Wellington Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder


2022 Conference Presenters

Join us virtually on May 19th as we dive into a thought-provoking discussion regarding mental health and wellbeing in relation to individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.  With two incredible keynote speakers, Dr. Jacqueline Pei and Dan Dubovsky guiding the discussion, attendees are guaranteed to leave the presentation with newfound knowledge and many useful takeaways, including how to modify current approaches when addressing FASD, mental health and wellbeing. 

Dr. Jacqueline Pei

Keynote Speaker

Jacqueline Pei (R. Psych., PhD) is a Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Alberta. Also a practicing Registered Psychologist for the past eighteen years, Dr. Pei began her career as a criminologist and forensic counselor working with incarcerated youth. Motivated by this early work, she returned to academia to study youth at risk, child development, and neuropsychology. Her current focus includes identification and evaluation of interventions to support healthy outcomes for youth put at risk, and in particular individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Dr. Pei has over 75 peer reviewed publications, but places the greatest value on her work with various community and government agencies. To this end, Dr. Pei currently leads the Intervention Network Action Team (iNAT), and is Senior Research Lead for the Canada FASD Research Network, roles that facilitates the link between research, policy, and practice.

Conference Summary:

This presentation reviews research examining mental health and wellness for individuals with FASD. The concept of mental health will be discussed, and extended to encompass wellness – a balanced perspective that prioritizes the individual with FASD. From this perspective, challenges present for individuals will be examined in terms of potential opportunities for supporting improved wellness and healthy outcomes for people with FASD. Research and practical considerations will be incorporated in this discussion, and attendees will be encouraged to consider ways in which they may leverage their existing skill sets, and collaborative networks, to support wellness. We will consider gaps that currently exist and ways we can engage in thoughtful and purposeful actions that are responsive to the unique needs of individuals with FASD.

Dan Dubovsky

Keynote Speaker

Dan has worked for over 40 years in the field of behavioural health, in residential, outpatient, and hospital settings. Dan has been involved in the field of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) for over 25 years, 14 of them as the FASD Specialist for the SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) FASD Center for Excellence in the United States. His son, Bill, has been his mentor and best teacher in understanding what it is like to live with FASD and how providers and family members need to change their approach.

Conference Summary:

Many individuals with FASD have been diagnosed with mental health issues. Some are misdiagnosed, which often occurs when the FASD is not recognized or understood, and others are co-occurring, due to genetic factors and/or environmental experiences. Most often, evidence-based practices for the treatment of mental health issues are not effective for individuals with FASD. If they do not respond to traditional approaches, they are frequently labeled as being “treatment failures”, “difficult to treat,” or “treatment resistant.”

This presentation addresses the importance of taking FASD into account when providing supports for individuals with mental health issues and in turn, helping them reach their full potential. We will discuss why typical approaches are not effective and the need to modify practices such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), group therapy, and motivational interviewing based on the understanding of the brain basis of FASD. As the goal in addressing mental health issues is recovery and building wellness, we discuss how best to support individuals with FASD and their families.


Laurie Whyte

Conference Speaker

Laurie Whyte has been an advocate and speaker for FASD for 15 years, shortly after her son was diagnosed with FASD. Laurie was appointed to the Special Education Advisory Committee with Upper Grand District School Board representing students and families with FASD. In addition to parenting two teenagers, Laurie co-facilitates the Guelph Caregiver Support Group, is a member of local FASD Action Group and spearheads the local REACH FOR IT program. Over the years, she has trained educational assistants, teachers, caregivers, social workers, and camp staff about FASD. In her spare time, Laurie enjoys training her dog, Phoenix. 

Conference Summary:
As a parent/caregiver, Laurie is able to speak from a lived-experience providing examples, and best approaches, that have worked for her within the sphere of mental health and wellbeing in relation to her son who was diagnosed with FASD. Providing genuine real-life experience, Laurie is able to provide attendees with in-depth knowledge which many may find relatable and comforting. With ample experience from her own personal life and within the FASD community, Laurie will undoubtedly be able to provide attendees with newfound knowledge and useful tips regarding mental health and wellness in relation to FASD. 

Tanya Eichler

Speaker for Parent/Caregiver Night on May 18, 2022

Tanya has worked primarily with families going through difficult circumstances, from children with special needs to generational abuse and addiction issues. She recognizes the strain that complex life stress places on individuals, marriages and families. She has a particular passion to work with people who have experienced trauma and may struggle with resulting challenges.

Tanya has  learned that while our relationships can be our greatest challenge and can be the origin of stress and trauma, often it is within relationships that we gain resilience and healing. The therapeutic relationship can be a powerful way to begin the journey to richer, healthier interconnection with the others in your world.

Tanya completed her undergrad degree at Trinity Western University and also completed her Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology at Adler University in Vancouver.

Conference Summary:

Tanya will be speaking during our intimate parent/caregiver night on Wednesday, May 18th, 2022. During this session, we will be focusing on mental health and wellness from a parent/caregiver perspective. Tanya will be providing coping strategies in order for parents and caregivers to find balance, stability and calmness. As parents/caregivers, we often take on a lot of stress and forget the importance of ensuring our own mental health and wellness is a priority. This session will provide you, as a parent/caregiver, with many useful takeaways to utilize in your personal life.


Additional Resources


Polyvagal Theory Video

"People with FASD Talk about FASD" Video