This story is part of our national organization NOFAS’ Social Work Stories campaign. This NOFAS campaign is in partnership with the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).
Brianna Megyesi, MSW, LSW, a licensed social worker and counselor at Double ARC, a NOFAS affiliate organization. She writes,
“There is a need for social workers to be knowledgeable about how to identify and treat individuals with FASD. I hope to pass on what I have learned.”
Brianna Megyesi, MSW, LSW
Brianna is a licensed social worker and counselor at Double ARC, an agency in Sylvania, Ohio and a NOFAS affiliate organization. She wrote the following story:
In my past year at Double ARC, I have learned a lot about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders that I was not taught in either undergrad or graduate classes. There is a need for social workers to be knowledgeable about how to identify and treat individuals with FASD. I hope to pass on what I have learned. As a part of our new online Triumph Today video classes about FASD, another counselor and I created a lesson about the many roles a social worker can take while working with individuals and families affected by FASD. In my position at Double ARC I take many of these roles which lead to rewarding experiences.
Individuals with FASDs have a wide range of needs at the community, individual, and family levels. As a social worker, I strive to advocate for individuals with FASD at each of these levels. For example, at the community level I help families navigate through the numerous services available to find the best fit for them. I reach out to other agencies and professionals in the area to make referrals based on their needs. I also educate other social service providers about FASD by presenting workshops. In addition, this past September for FASDAY, I organized a prevention event in Downtown Toledo, Ohio to convey the message that there is no safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant.
As a social worker, I also provide early intervention and support to families and children with FASD. At Double ARC, I help with the FASD diagnostic process by meeting with parents concerned that their child might have FASD and guiding them through the process. I learn about behaviors specific to their child using a screening tool, and then our diagnostic team completes assessments of the child and provides a full comprehensive report that includes the diagnosis, results of the assessments, and recommendations for supporting the child. I follow-up to help them navigate through services based on the child’s unique needs.
I also facilitate a monthly online Parent Support Group where parents discuss their frustrations and triumphs of parenting a child with FASD. I help teach them different parenting techniques, and most importantly they learn they are not alone. Perhaps one of my most important roles is to advocate for children with FASD at school Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings. I accompany parents to explain the implications of the child’s FASD diagnosis. I help parents advocate for special education for their child, and make sure to give recommendations for support at school to ensure the child with FASD can reach their full potential.
Working with both children and families with FASD has been very rewarding. When parents first call me, they usually express that they’re “at their wits end” and “nothing seems to be working.” After listening to them, reflecting, and explaining more about FASD, it is very meaningful to hear them express their gratitude that “someone else actually understands.” I am grateful to be in a position where I can provide a voice to those who have been affected by prenatal alcohol exposure, an invisible handicapping condition.