Life guard strategies

Red Shoes Rock honors the FASD pioneer – Jan Lutke – Thank you!

Jan Lutke is a first-person/child thinker
and doer. She is also a giver back to
empower her community—the world.

Albert Einstein said: “The problems that we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them”

Jan’s work threw families and professionals a Life Saver Ring for the survival of our young people.

Jan Lutke and Brenda Knight – photo taken by NOFAS at the 6th International Conference on FASD in Vancouver, Canada, March 4-7, 2015 “We Can Prevent FASD!”

So many of our pioneers have laid the foundations of caregiving that professionals and parents following have relied on as “just the way it is.” Red Shoes Rock wants to share the work that “real individuals like Jan Lutke” bushwhacked to make a path for others to follow. We humbly and thoughtfully share her work in hopes that understanding the beginning will magnify the present and change the future.

The FASD Community is grateful to Jan Lutke for her expert work in the development and planning as Conference Chair for the International Research Conference and the International Research Conference on Adolescents and Adults with FASD in Vancouver, BC, Canada. To learn more about these enriching conferences.

Hard Issues for Parents of Adolescents and
Adults with FASD: Playing Lifeguard
© Jan Lutke
One of the things, if you let it, that parenting adolescents and adults with FASD makes you face is your core values. That can work for you, or against you. It depends on how honest you are with your own personal circumstances, how willing or able you are to grow and change, and how able you may be to adapt. One thing is for sure, refusing to at least consider the possibility that some of our core beliefs may be part of the problems we encounter removes any likelihood that we can structure change in areas we control.
Most of us have not really even thought about what our beliefs are. We simply espouse to the idea of values, without ever having elucidated them in a clear, orchestrated manner. You have to do that before you can either defend and retain or let go of them. And yet we, and the rest of society’s systems in which our children are forced to interact, expect our children to be able to follow those values – social rules – which are, at best, small raindrops in a huge pond rippling every which way as the wind blows.
The pond is the value. The accumulating raindrops are the myriad of small things that continue to build and change the value over time. The waves are the events, and the winds are the circumstances. The rock that then gets thrown into this mixture is the place where that value needs to be used.
Never are things the same twice.
Those of us who have the ultimate luxury of a brain hard-wired to accommodate being perpetually seasick, have at our disposal a boat, a motor, fuel, a set of oars, a bailing bucket, lifejackets, a map, a radio, not to mention boots, a raincoat, and an umbrella. We also know how to understand the captain’s orders. We know how to follow them. We know how to work the radio and send a mayday if need be.
This is not true for the adolescent or adult with FASD. He has fallen overboard in that pond. He is alone and adrift without a lifejacket, unable to see the shore, trying desperately to keep his head above water.
What must it feel like to be so perpetually close to drowning all the time?

Lifeguard Strategies For Supporting
Adolescents and Adults Affected
by FASD is a FREE download

The FREE BOOKLET was developed as the result of a workshop exercise designed by Brenda Bennett, founding director of FASD Life’s Journey Inc. in Winnipeg, Manitoba. As the presenter, at a workshop, entitled Strategies for Supporting Youth and Adults with FASD Within Community Social Services, Brenda first read Hard Issues for Parents of Adolescents and Adults with FASD, Issue #1, Playing Lifeguard, written by ©Jan Lutke of FASD Connections (  Jan Lueke generously has allowed her article to be shared with the world. Special thank you to all the workshop participants who contributed their hearts and minds and experience to this effort.

Brenda shared Jan’s analogy to assist the audience in appreciating the magnitude of the difficulties encountered by an affected adult merely to keep their head above water on a day to day basis. Part of a workshop Strategies for Supporting Youth and Adults with FASD within Community Social Services and Presented by Brenda Bennett, February 7–10, 2006, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan at The FASD Network which was created originally by families for families and individuals.

More Strategies from Jan:

We love the artwork at Thank you for making a difference to help people succeed

Handling Money – (Click to see full article)

I guess we need to look at this whole issue around functional independence in society. If you can’t budget and you can’t make your money last, and you can’t make change properly, and you don’t understand values, you just might be going to be taken advantage of a whole lot as an adult.

Society says, “Get on with it”. A lot of the adults I work with are on disability social assistance and they cannot, if they are handling their own money, survive because they can’t make it last.

Have any of you have seen the “David” video. David did his first solo grocery shopping bought $80 worth of food for what his support worker spent $40 on. The bottom line is if it takes you twice as much money to buy the same stuff you are going to be real hungry fast.

Tina tells us the story about a young man she took to pay some bills and he gave a $10 tip for a $1.95 item. He said to her “It’s not very much money!” But he had no idea. He didn’t know. He just didn’t understand. He didn’t know. They can’t understand those things.

The money is spent right away. As soon as money is in their hands, it’s gone. Now! Instantly! Impulsively!

Relationships and Therapies

Sometimes the worst thing you can do with people with FAS is to put them in group therapy or maybe talk about something like offending because then they get stuck on the thought. Always think about what the FAS piece is in this and how does it affect this particular person before you make a decision about what you are going to do. (Note from Jodee – we have seen this happen to many adults who are court ordered to attend AA meetings and then fall because of the stories shared in the group, they cannot get out of their heads.)

Relationships require a lot of outside work and support in order to work. I would like to see us try to set up things for unaffected partners and friends that they could get FAS specific training and counselling and a lot of personal support themselves so that they can learn how to better relate to the person with FAS.


Job coaches, if you want to have success in employment, job coaching for many has to be long term.

Parents, you know your children better than anyone else advocates for him or her. You can say, “I disagree with you ,and I know my child better than you.” You just have to get up and say that, and they are all going to hate your guts, but they go home at the end of the day. So the person who should be making those decisions should be the parent. They have a vested interest and know the child better than anyone else especially as they grow up. So they need work which matches the employees needs and the employees ability, and you know what? It is perfectly doable.

Dr. Ed Riley and CJ Lutke – photo taken by NOFAS at the 6th International Conference on FASD in Vancouver, Canada, March 4-7, 2015 “We Can Prevent FASD!”

And Red Shoes Rock is grateful that like her mother, Jan’s daughter, CJ, has become a forceful, yet loving FASD advocate. She was raised by one of the best.

CJ Lutke, Myles Himmelreich and Emily Travis co-authored a survey of 541 people living with the disorder in Canada and the United States to see how commonly they experience other physical and mental health conditions. Read more here Adults exposed to alcohol before birth appear prone to health conditions.

CJ says it best, “I am not a statistic. I am not like you, but my brain works. I am not an FAS case. I am a person with FAS. I have a disability, but my spirit is whole.”




Articles by Jan Lutke

  • A Multiple “A” System of Service Delivery for Adolescents and Adults with FASD
  • Useful One Liners
  • FASD and Justice Issues at the Community Level in the NWT With funding from
  • the Crime Prevention Action Fund
  • The “S” System for Working with Adults with FASD
  • The Ten “L” Model for Life with FASD
  • Guiding Principles for Working with Adolescents and Adults with FASD
  • Ever Wondered . . . . How did these things/expressions/actions come about?
  • The ABC’s of Working with FASD
  • The Social Tattoo: Let’s Really Talk about FASD
  • Hard Issues for Parents of Adolescents and Adults with FASD: Playing Lifeguard


Published by jodeekulp

Jodee Kulp, is an award-winning author, producer and advocate who works tirelessly to serve children and families of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Her behavioral work in understanding canine fear and applying it to helping adults gain life skills is momumental and parallels our work with EAGALA Equine Therapy. It will be exciting to watch this progress. - Chris Troutt, Papillion Center Current Projects include: Pearlz Work Embraced Movement PraiseMoves LIFT (Laughter in Fitness Training) LiveAbilities Red Shoes Rock. Stop FASD PawZup Life Stories

2 thoughts on “Life guard strategies

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: