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Meet the researcher: Kelly Skorka

Kelly Skorka, PhD candidate:

My name is Kelly, I’m a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland, and my research is looking into the experiences of children with FASD and their families. In our recent review of the literature, we found that there is a lot of research into the challenges reported by children and their families, providing clinicians with knowledge regarding the areas in which they require support. However, there is less of a focus on individual and family strengths and positive experiences, which are just as important for skill development and participation.

My current research therefore has involved interviewing children and young people with FASD and their caregivers, to gain insight into their lived experiences, both strengths and challenges, so that we have a more complete picture of their daily lives.

Text displayed on the screen: What has your research found so far?

Kelly Skorka:

Our preliminary results have found that children and young people demonstrate many positive personality characteristics, such as perseverance even when tasks are difficult, and a happy disposition. In addition, utilising children’s interests – such as art, music, photography, sport – helps them to be more motivated and engaged, and this further supports learning and development. Stable and supportive caregivers are also particularly important for promoting strong relationships with their children and enhancing participation in daily activities.

Text displayed on the screen: What are the implications for kids, families and health professionals?

Kelly Skorka:

The implications of my research for children and young people with FASD, their families, and health and education professionals, is that it is just as important to know children’s personal assets and external resources that help them with their daily activities, as it is to be aware of the challenges they experience. And then harnessing these strengths, particularly children’s interests, can promote development, motivation, engagement, and enjoyment in daily activities.

Text displayed on the screen: What’s your ultimate goal for this research?

Kelly Skorka:

My goals are to raise awareness of the importance of a holistic approach to supporting children with FASD by understanding all of their experiences, both positive and challenging, and educating families and support services on the benefits of incorporating strengths into therapy, learning, and daily activities.