Day 2: Red Shoes Rock: Bridging the Gap


Day 2 of the Red Shoes Rock to Stop FASD awareness campaign brought my red shoes across a suspension bridge. Bridges support safe passage over an obstacle.

Like a bridge, I support the maiden and help her navigate the obstacles she faces each day.  Bridges can also be a symbol to connect services, mandates and communities to come together to address FASD.

In Ontario (Canada) there is a large divide between what is required and what is available to prevent FASD and services for those with FASD. A Call to Action to address this gap was coordinated by FASD ONE (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Ontario Network of Excellence) and put out to the Ontario provincial government in March 2014.

In the forty years since FASD was first identified little action has taken place in the province. Stigma associated with alcohol use during pregnancy and FASD is one cause for inaction. The voices of families who so often drive social change are lost to addiction, grief and misinformation. This has meant that opportunities to inform, support and prevent FASD in all sectors of society have been missed.

Not addressing the impact of FASD on the health, education, child welfare, early years, mental health, developmental services, and legal systems will embed chronic failure into the current platform of services for individuals with this neurodevelopmental disability.

Because FASD can mimic or co-occur with other common neurodevelopmental disorders like Autism, ADHD, and/or mental health disorders, diagnosis becomes complicated. If the brain function vulnerabilities are missed, resources are misdirected from appropriate services.

The cost is generations of individuals whose primary needs have been missed; this has resulted in a loss of individual, family and community potential and misapplied resources.

FASD ONE states:

A provincial strategy provides an opportunity for the Government of Ontario to take the lead in implementing an action plan that will prevent FASD, while ensuring effective services for those with FASD. This will result in reduced incidence, improved outcomes, and decreased costs.

A provincial strategy will foster collaboration across ministries to guide policies, investments, commitments and activities to support pregnant women and all women of childbearing age, as well as children, youth and adults with FASD.

Benefits of a provincial strategy would be immediate:

  • Service providers and families can begin to address the issues and stabilize lives.
  • Individuals with FASD could contribute their skills and talents.
  • Resources would be efficiently applied, reducing reliance on expensive crisis services and ensuring those with FASD live with dignity.

The Government listened. And responded. But its response was severely lacking.

You can find details of the response here: Ontario 2017 Budget Provides $26 Million for FASD .

and a response to the government’s response here: One Response to Provincial FASD Strategy.

Leading up to International FASD Awareness Day (September 9) is a good time to review the recommendations put forth and remind our politicians that they clearly have not been addressed and it is time to take action on FASD and bridge the gap!

2021 Update:

Since this post not too much as happened with respect to FASD. We do have a provincial budget for FASD that hasn’t increased since being introduced … yet the budget for another disability that isn’t even as common, doubled from $300 million to $600 million.

national strategy

With an upcoming federal election in Canada, now is the time to talk to your local candidates about FASD.
The Canada FASD Research Network has come up with 7 potential questions you can ask:
1. What will you/your party do to address FASD in Canada?
2. The Federal government has previously funded the development of a National Autism Strategy. FASD is 2.5 times more common than Autism. Will you support the development of a National FASD Strategy in Canada?
3. Is supporting people with FASD and their families part of your party’s platform?
4. Will your party support the Canada FASD Research Network in their work to generate evidence to inform policy and improve outcomes for individuals and families with FASD?
5. If your party forms the next government, how will you encourage federal ministries, including health, education, justice, corrections, and social services, to work together to address the complexities of FASD?
6. With alcohol consumption and mental health challenges in women increasing due to COVID-19, how do you plan to address the potential for increased alcohol-exposed pregnancies and future cases of FASD?
7. How is your party increasing awareness of the harms of alcohol, including FASD?
Check out their recent blogpost for more ideas and information.