September 9, 2014 is international Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day. SC Community Services will have information booths at Trail Bay Mall from 10am-noon and at Sunnycrest Mall from 1pm-3pm.
Did you know that 30% of women drink during pregnancy and that FASD is the leading cause of preventable developmental disability in North America, with approximately 1 in 100 babies born prenatally exposed to alcohol? International advocates and researchers have deemed FASD a pandemic. FASD is not a women’s issue, FASD is a societal issue with huge economic costs. FASD is not limited to any one group and is present across many cultures and economic status. Whenever there is access to alcohol, children are born affected.
The costs for the individual who is prenatally exposed to alcohol are equally burdensome: memory impairment; intellectual delay; impulsivity; emotional dysregulation; difficulty with problem solving and abstract thinking are just a few of the challenges that children and adults living with this brain difference experience on a daily basis. The hardest part: the daily struggles of this invisible disability are life long, and present enormous strain on families and caregivers who attempt to support their loved ones affected by FASD. The outcomes for those living with FASD can be discouraging: unemployment; homelessness; criminality; addictions; mental health problems and suicide.
What can we do as a community? Prevention, education and support; several times a year the Circle of Support offers community-based training to both family members and professionals. There are many online resources where you can find information, strategies and support networks. We can build our understanding of this invisible disability and be a more accommodating community. It is not the individual living with the permanent disability that must change, it is the people surrounding them that must shift perspective and accommodate the brain difference.
Researchers have not been able to determine a “safe amount” of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, the safest option is to not drink alcohol. Spouses, partners and families can support pregnant women by also abstaining from alcohol.
The Circle of Support at Sunshine Coast Community Services Society offers support to children, youth and families affected by FASD and other Complex Developmental Behavioural Conditions. We also offer direct support and consultation to other community support services and professionals who work with individuals affected. A diagnosis is not required to access the program. For more info, call 604-885-5881 (ext. 231) or access our website, www.sccss.ca. The following websites are also a great resource: canfasd.ca and www. fasdoutreach.ca