frequently asked questions
1. How can I get supports from Connections?
Call Connections at 403 209-1100 to refer yourself or a family for support. Unfortunately, the time it takes to get someone into service depends on available funding. We also stay true to our mission and can only support families in which at least one parent has a cognitive challenge.
2. Do parents with a disability have children with a disability?
Not always. Some children will have a disability and others won’t.
3. How does Connections define “Cognitive Disability”?
Connections accepts into service any degree of learning challenge that makes it difficult for parents to develop their parenting skills through conventional approaches (attending a parenting class or reading a book). While we do not require a test to evaluate the learning challenge, some of our funding sources do require a specific IQ <70.
4. How do I get support from Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD)?
Persons with Developmental Disabilities is the Alberta government department providing supports to adults with a cognitive challenge. While policies can change at any time, adults with an IQ determined prior to age 18 and below 70 are eligible for supports. Connections can provide guidance for a PDD application. For information directly from PDD: http://humanservices.alberta.ca/disability-services/pdd.html
5. I suspect a parent I’m helping has a cognitive challenge – how can I know for sure?
Many adults with cognitive challenges have spent their life hiding their disability and living with the stigma of disability. It is a sensitive issue. We will ask the parent where she or he went to school because attending a school or program designed for people with learning challenges serves as a good clue. From there, asking about their experience in the school system and up-bringing identifies a pattern that is common to people with learning difficulties.
6. I’m worried that a child is unsafe – what do I do?
Call Child Intervention Services Intake Line at (403) 297-2995. This line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-387-KIDS (5437). While Connections advocates for parents to be able to parent, sometimes they can’t and we also must make a call if we are concerned for a child’s well-being. Child safety always comes first.
7. How many parents with developmental disabilities are there?
This number is difficult to know – in Calgary or in any other province or other countries. In 2014, Connections supported 91 families but still maintained a waiting list with anywhere from 10 to 30 families.
From Statistics Canada, we know that for every 10,000 babies born in Canada each year: 20 will be Autistic, 5 will have Asperger’s, 15 will have pervasive developmental disorder, and 90 will have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
Until the 1970s, adults in Alberta with developmental disabilities (and some mental illnesses) were routinely sterilized so they couldn’t have children. Once those routine sterilizations mostly stopped, and people could choose to have relationships and children, the need arose to provide supports so these families could be successful. Connections was formed in 1990 so that adults with learning challenges would be able to make the choice to be parents and have the support they need to be successful.