Day 4 on my Red Shoes Rock journey to bring awareness about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, leading up to International FASD Awareness Day is about what is hidden. I was prompted to think about hidden with the piano featured above. It was created to celebrate Canada’s 150th. Every time I passed it, it was covered up, and I wondered what was beneath. One day, the cover was off – and I was surprised at what had been hidden.
There are many things about FASD which are hidden.
The disability itself is considered an invisible disability. Because for the most part, the only way to “see” FASD is to see the behaviour caused by the damage done to the developing brain. There are a small percentage who have physical features, but most do not.
The disability remains hidden to many professionals (in terms of diagnosis), as does advising women on the only known way to prevent it. There are professionals who do not know about FASD or are ill-informed about FASD (a study in the USA revealed at least half do not feel confident in diagnosing). There are professionals and people who still think drinking during pregnancy is okay. It is not. While there is no known safe amount, alcohol does cause damage, so it is best to abstain. See Day 5 of 99 Days to FASDay for a discussion on no known safe amount.
There is still not a lot known about the father’s role in FASD. A study did discover 75% of children with FASD had biological fathers who were “alcoholics”. See Day 9 of 99 Days to FASDay for more information on this study.
The disability remains hidden from the individuals who may have it. Many people may not know they have FASD because their birth mom has not disclosed drinking alcohol. Many do not see the disability present itself until the child reaches early or middle school. See Day 10 of 99 Days to FASDay which talks about how FASD remains hidden.
Women hide their drinking. Stigma, shame and blame remain. Who can blame women because many still blame the women for drinking. See Day 23 of 99 Days to FASDay and Day 26 of 99 Days to FASDay which challenges the way we speak about women.
An older post, Today is FASD Awareness Day discusses the hidden disability and strengths of individuals. The talents of people with FASD are also hidden. People tend to focus on the negative and not the positive. I get the challenges – believe me – I’ve lived them with the maiden. However it is important to focus on what a person can do, and help that person develop that talent or interest. Self esteem is so important. Too many develop secondary disabilities because their primary needs are not being met. Check out Day 27 of 99 Days to FASDay for information on the importance of focusing on the positive.
Remember just because you cannot see something does not mean it is not there. And what you see is not always what you think. It’s time to bring FASD to the forefront. Not only in helping women address addiction, but in educating about the risks of drinking alcohol and providing support and services to those who are already have FASD.
And that’s what the red shoes are all about. It’s finding something that draws attention to an important subject in a fun and respectful way. It’s time for people to take notice. It’s time for people to take action. There are still five more days to get involved!