Day 88 of 99 Days to FASDay: What’s Your Tone?

Day 88 wraps up our mini review of awareness campaigns that we featured for Day 86 of 99 Days to FASDay: FASD Messages and Day 87 of 99 Days to FASDay: Images of FASD

Today we look at the results when reviewing campaign tones.

In this review, campaigns varied widely in tone, from warm, positive themes, to stronger fear-based or shock approaches. Most respondents took a respectful, supportive approach to raising awareness about FASD. These campaigns recognized the complex issues associated with prenatal alcohol exposure and linked pregnant women and families to needed supports, or talked about how to be supportive. A few campaigns used a stronger approach, reinforcing the amount of harm and level of risk that can be caused by alcohol use in pregnancy. Some groups started with stronger approaches and moved to a more supportive tone as their skills and understanding of FASD increased. There is a lack of reliable information on the effectiveness of warmer versus stronger approaches in raising awareness about FASD.

Different types of appeals work with different populations of interest. Groups may have different knowledge levels or may be at different stages of readiness-to-change behaviour. For example, uninvolved groups that do not know the risks or have not thought about changing their behaviour will generally respond to an emotional appeal, such as information about the consequences of prenatal alcohol exposure. Groups that are thinking about changing a specific risk behaviour or are planning a pregnancy will be more likely to respond to an educational or rational approach, such as clear direction on safe levels of alcohol use during pregnancy.

Although fear-based strategies have been shown to be effective in tobacco campaigns for the general public (Council for Tobacco-free Ontario et al., 2000), it is still unclear if fear- based appeals are effective and appropriate in campaigns for pregnant women, and more specifically, in raising awareness about alcohol and pregnancy. There are concerns about possible side effects of fear-based campaigns, such as increased stigma about alcohol use in pregnancy, increased stress for pregnant women, decreased access to services and increased fear of disclosure of alcohol use in pregnancy. In the case of counselling strategies, there is evidence that confrontational approaches can increase resistance to change or push people to make change before they are ready, resulting in short-term changes that are not sustainable (Miller and Rollnick, 2002). Although fear-based appeals have been successfully incorporated into tobacco and seat belt strategies, the possible repercussions for pregnant substance-using women make fear-based approaches risky for use in FASD awareness campaigns. Many respondents reflected on their guiding values during the planning process.

The guiding values of hope, respect, compassion and understanding for both women who use alcohol and for individuals with FASD were considered to be helpful in defining the tone of a campaign. Key takeaways: Use a positive, supportive approach and avoid the use of blame, shame and fear based strategies.

I don’t have links for every country who has a campaign to provide examples, but if you visit the FASD on the Web page there are links to some of the larger FASD organizations that you can check out. In late August 2022 CanFASD published a series of webinars that cover prevention campaigns from different countries. As of the time of writing this I have only been able to watch one, but will update information as I go through the series.

Dear Everybody: Let’s End Stigma

The original Day 88 was an example of a very successful campaign called Dear Everybody. It was not specific to FASD but was about children with disabilities. I have left the information below as I still find this campaign well done and the information compelling.

In August 2017, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital launched an anti-stigma campaign called, Dear Everybody.

Dear Everybody is an open letter from children and youth with disabilities, and their families, that pushes readers to confront their own biases about disability and human value. The letter begins: “Every line of our letter helps people understand our lives, puts a little information into our world and takes a little stigma out of it.” – Louise Kinross

Dear Everybody  website.

Dear Everybody - Don't Be Rude

Dear Everybody,

We live with our disabilities every day. You might think that’s the biggest problem but it isn’t. The biggest problem is the world that’s full of stigma around living with a disability. People are afraid to offend so they avoid asking questions or making conversation. But we need to get these answers out there, we need to start talking. So we’re putting it all out there. Every line of our letter helps people understand our lives, puts a little information into our world and takes a little stigma out of it. So read and share because a world without stigma is a better world for everybody.

Here we go.

  • Not everyone with a disability looks like they have a disability.
  • Just because someone doesn’t do something the way most people do it, doesn’t mean they can’t do it.
  • Being afraid to say the wrong thing to someone is no reason to ignore them.
  • Whispering is rarely as discreet as you think it is.
  • Talking to someone with a disability like they’re a baby is rude unless they’re a baby.
  • Just because someone doesn’t speak the way you do, doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot to say.

Dear Everybody - We have a lot to say

  • If being around someone with a disability makes you feel uncomfortable, you aren’t around someone with a disability enough.
  • If we can’t include everyone in a game, we aren’t playing it right.
  • Got a question for someone with a disability? Ask them. Not the person with them.
  • Advocating for your own inclusion is tiring.
  • Not everyone in a wheelchair needs to be fixed.
  • Asking is better than assuming. But do you need to know?
  • Prosthetic arms are very cool, but staring isn’t.
  • Disability isn’t awkward but stairs and doors can be.
  • People with disabilities have good days and bad days, just like you.
  • Sometimes concentrating looks like fidgeting.
  • There’s no such thing as normal.
  • If someone’s voice is hard for you to understand, talk to them more. You will get better at it.
  • Sometimes it’s easy to underestimate how awesome someone’s life is.
  • There are things that people with disabilities don’t get about disability too.
  • If someone communicates differently than you, still say “hi.”
  • Feeling sorry for someone with a disability never makes them feel better.
  • Anyone can be included. Just accommodate.
  • Having a disability is different than being sick.
  • Grownups need to treat people with disabilities the way kids do.
  • Using a communication device takes a lot of concentration and it can be exhausting.
  • Let your kid talk to someone with a disability.
  • Not everyone who uses a wheelchair can’t walk.
  • Overstimulation can look like bad behaviour. It’s very different.
  • If you’re inspired by someone with a disability, make sure they did something inspiring.
  • Nobody likes being stared at.
  • Holding a door can change someone’s day.
  • Some people pay better attention to conversations when they don’t make eye contact.
  • Why aren’t there any superheroes that use a wheelchair?
  • Just because someone needs more time to do something doesn’t mean they are less able.
  • Chats about making things accessible for people with disabilities should include people with disabilities.
  • Some curbs and steps might as well say: ‘People who use wheelchairs are not welcome here.’
  • Before you start helping someone who uses a wheelchair, ask if you can help them.
  • Having to prove that you need an accommodation can be very frustrating.
  • Let kids without disabilities be curious about disability.
  • It’s good to learn about someone’s disability. It’s better to learn about what you have in common with them.
  • Navigating this world in a wheelchair takes a whole lot of planning.
  • Everyone deserves to be accepted.
  • Nobody expects you to know everything about disability. Ask questions.

Dear Everybody Just Ask

Thank you for reading. If you discovered one new thing about living with a disability, then we already live in a better world. Please share this letter and help us start an even bigger conversation.

~ From the kids of Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital

The Dear Everybody website has a lot of resources so be sure to grab a coffee, tea, or glass of water and take a look around 

The maiden has, and continues to, experienced stigma, exclusion and unfortunately bullying. Check out: Breaking Bad Bullying Behaviour as well as this video A Message for FASD Superheroes  who may be getting bullied from Lee Harvey-Heath (an adult with FASD) and FASD Devon and Cornwall.

A new ad campaign was launched in 2018 called, “I’ll break the barriers.” 

The campaign returned in 2019 for the third year with powerful images that highlight the exclusion of people with disabilities from the media landscape, challenging the public to demand more inclusive representation.

Let us know if you have any interesting videos or links for stigma, exclusion, bullying or inclusion.

See you tomorrow as we head into the home stretch of our journey!