Red Shoes Rock honors the FASD pioneers –
Jocie DeVries – Thank you!
This Tower of Power
Shone Light in the Darkness of FASD
mother, FAS*FRI founder, advocate, visionary.
Frantic calls poured into the Washington State Adoption Program in 1991 from overwhelmed and desperate parents trying to raise adoptive children with special needs. Managers of that program asked a parent participant to write a summary of her family’s experience in raising two children diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. That mom was the dynamo, Jocie DeVries.
Jocie wrote the letter and every family receiving Adoption Support was sent a copy. In 1991, parenting children with FASD was barely understood, behaviors were misunderstood, and families were struggling.
- What if parents pooled their information?
- Could we expand our understanding and knowledge if we shared our experiences?
- Could we work together to come up with strategies and solutions?
The adoption staff encouraged, Jocie to continue and expand the communication and information exchange between families. The resulting body of information came to be called the Collective Family Experience on FASD because it described the behaviors and experiences most common to families raising children with FASD. This Collective Family Experience grew and developed into a vital body of information and expertise, straight from the wisdom of practice and frontline experience.
As Jocie compassionately shared her adoption experience, I realized she was describing the very behaviors we were struggling to understand within our home!A MOM was giving me answers that no professional had yet been able to do.There is a place in my heart that will always belong just to you, Jocie. You are my hero. You are my angel friend. — Dorothy Beckwith
Jocie’s original letter naturally evolved into an informal newsletter sent out to other parents. In 1992, it became a more formal intermittent newsletter called, FAS Times. FAS Times was shared from person to person. Professionals in many services systems asked to be added to the mailing list.
In 1995, the Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse in DSHS recognized the value of the newsletter and funded the FAS Family Resource Institute for its quarterly publication through June 2008. At the height of circulation, about 3,000 parents and professionals received FAS Times, and it was sent all across the U.S. and to several foreign countries.
Her vision was and still is for every child with FASD to be loved, understood and treated with compassion. Her instinct always went much deeper than finding the next destination as we often heard, “ Okay girls, we’re safe because we’ve been lost here before.”
She could dry the tears of a family in crisis, give them hope and turn around and stamp
her lace stocking foot at a policy maker’s door and send them scurrying for cover. What an amazing woman! – Vicky McKinney & Linda LaFever
Years later, Jocie’s wisdom and articles remain priceless. Much can be gleaned and adapted from her work.
Note: The acronym FAS/E evolved into Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). To keep the integrity of Josie’s articles Red Shoes Rock has made no editing changes:
- Introducing… A Standard of Care for Toddlers, Children, Adolescents and Adults with FAS/E by Jocie DeVries
- A Standard of Care for Children with FASD by Jocie DeVries
- FAS/E: A Standard of Care for Adolescents – The Anti-Social Years by Jocie DeVries
- A Standard of Care for Adults – The Dysfunctional Years by Jocie DeVries
- Finding Strengths and Building Self Esteem in Children with FAS/E by Jocie DeVries
- Educating Children under the Influence of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure by Jocie DeVries
The problems we readily see are only the tip of the iceberg. Jocie’s team realized the difficulties of FASD and seeing only the outward appearance was just the tip of an Iceberg.
And so began ICEBERG, an incredible printed quarterly international educational newsletter on FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders) from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Information System (FASIS) – founded in 1991 – a parent/professional partnership.
JOCIE HAD A TEAM OF EXCELLENT PEOPLE WORKING WITH HER – TOMORROW MEET “The Pests from The West” that changed the understanding of parenting children with FASD in healthy and a consistent style.
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