6 Ways to Advocate for FASD

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From a series of posts on Facebook by the FASD Network of Saskatchewan (Canada)

An advocate is anyone who speaks up on behalf of others or a cause. Becoming an advocate can change lives. Advocating can happen every day with small changes to what we do or say.

1. Use Person First Language

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The first step to becoming an advocate for FASD is to become aware of how you refer to individuals with FASD. Nobody wants to be defined by a medical diagnosis. When person-first language is used, it puts the person before the disability. This simple change in how we speak emphasizes that a person’s defining feature is not FASD.

For example, instead of saying “FASD youth” say “youth with FASD”. It may seem like a small thing but it makes a difference.

For more information on person-first language, and links to resources, visit: Day 21 of 99 Days to FASDay: FASD Language Guide.

2. Quit Shaming and Blaming

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We have all seen the comments online or heard remarks during conversations, when FASD is discussed, there is a societal tendency to judge birth mothers. To make a difference, to become an advocate, we need to move past the shame and blame. We need to understand the influences and reasons why a woman may drink while pregnant and, as a community, support her to have a safe and healthy pregnancy.

Here is a great video by Myles Himmelreich speaking about moving from shame and blame to support and care. Stop the Shame and Blame.

3. Challenge Conversations

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Becoming an advocate for FASD means speaking up. Refuse to sit idly by. Let’s do our part. Let’s challenge negative conversations about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

4. Stop Stigma

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We see a lot of stigma associated with FASD. This stigma contributes to the beliefs that individuals with FASD have behavioural problems, substance abuse issues, and will inevitably end up in the criminal justice system. As a result of this stigma, society does not have an accurate perception of the lives and experiences of families and individuals with FASD.

5. Get to Know the Person

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FASD is a unique disability that manifests itself differently within each person. Every person has unlimited potential and we need to recognize the strengths, struggles, hopes and dreams of individuals. If we as a community stop generalizing and take time to truly get to know a person we can move past the labels and stigma.

6. Encourage Education

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Becoming an advocate for FASD means speaking up. Refuse to sit idly by. Let’s do our part. Let’s challenge negative conversations about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Thanks to the

FASD Network of Saskatchewan

for these tips and graphics.

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Here are some more tips and actions suggested by another advocate, Elspeth:

  1. Write letters to the Editor
  2. Join with others
  3. Work with groups/advocates in Developmental Disabilities for services for adolescents/adults. Their needs for transition help, some forms of assisted living and assisted employment are the same as ours, but we lack understanding and the funding.

If you have any suggestions feel free to comment below or send a message to fasd @ oursacredbreath.com

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