|Bridget Hines is enrolled in UMD's Masters of Social Work program. She also works at Children's Place, UMD's campus child care program.|
While working at a residential treatment center for children and adolescents, Bridget Hines saw firsthand some of the challenges individuals diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) face every day. Enrolled in UMD’s Masters of Social Work program, Hines decided to supplement her graduate work by earning a certificate in FASD from UMD’s Continuing Education. “The certificate was a good opportunity for me to learn more about the disorder to integrate into my counseling,” she said.
Part of Continuing Education's Professional Studies Series (noncredit), the FASD certificate program is a four module series and is offered online. Hines, who earned an undergraduate degree at UMD in exercise science and psychology and was named an NCAA post-graduate scholar in cross country, found many of the videos included in the program especially meaningful.
“The foster parents who cared for teens with FASD and the couple who both have FASD brought to life their everyday challenges and opportunities. The videos helped me separate the person from the disorder. They reminded me that although FASD has significant impacts on their lives depending on where they identify on the spectrum, FASD does not define their lives,” she said. “As a social worker, I must always remember to respect and celebrate the dignity and value of each person no matter what disorder, disease, or obstacle they confront.”
She believes she will continue to draw upon what she learned. “This program has given me the first glimpse of what a diverse population of clients I will be working with as a social worker. I gained fundamental knowledge of FASD as a foundational starting point towards learning more about specific mental health issues. After I graduate, I hope to apply what I have learned with clients who have FASD and use some of the same fundamental concepts to work with other clients who face similar obstacles.”
Hines also sees the certificate as tangible evidence that she always wants to improve as a social worker. “I hope that having the certificate will be a way that future employers can recognize my commitment towards life-long learning and my passion for clinical mental health. The program has given me a unique insight to a population who require special attention and understanding.”
Those who can, see the world through another’s eyes.
To learn more about the FASD certificate, visit the Continuing Education website.
FASD is caused when a mother consumes alcohol during her pregnancy. According to the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, an estimated 8,500 babies are born each year in Minnesota with brain damage caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. FASD can also result in physical deformities, developmental delays, behavioral problems, and learning disabilities that can last a lifetime. FASD reaches across all ethnicities and socio-economic classes. It is also 100% preventable if a woman does not drink alcohol during pregnancy.
Written by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann, November, 2012