What is FASD?

I am not talking about what the acronym FASD means or even how it is caused but going deeper into what it really means for Society. Most people see it as an alcohol and pregnancy issue – but it really goes beyond that. In the 99 Days to FASDay series, we have tried to highlight that it is complex.

The Canada FASD Research Network releases an FASD Awareness Month Toolkit each year that contains social media images people are free to use. One image from 2020 struck me more than the most. Many advocates have been saying these things for many years:

As the graphic states:

  • FASD is a criminal justice issue.
  • FASD is a disability rights issue.
  • FASD is a food security issue.
  • FASD is a global health issue.
  • FASD is a housing issue.
  • FASD is a mental health issue.
  • FASD is a women’s health issue.

The tagline on the graphic is: You can’t solve one and not the other. This is true. But there are many more components to FASD. When the question was asked on the FASD Caregiver Success Facebook page – what else FASD is – as well, I asked on my personal page, this what else people added:

  • FASD is a child and adult issue.
  • FASD is a child’s health issue.
  • FASD is a community issue.
  • FASD is an economic issue.
  • FASD is an education issue.
  • FASD is everyone’s issue.
  • FASD is a family issue.
  • FASD is a hidden issue.
  • FASD is a human rights issue.
  • FASD is a lifelong issue.
  • FASD is a men’s issue.
  • FASD is a premature death issue.
  • FASD is a social issue.
  • FASD is a social justice issue.
  • FASD is a substance abuse issue.
  • FASD is a trauma issue.
  • FASD is a whole family issue.

It’s also a child welfare issue, which is on one of the other CanFASD graphics.

Dr. Susan Rich replied: FASD and NDPAE are a global Human Rights issue, intimately interwoven and inextricably linked to Social Determinants of Health.

According to a CanFASD Issue Paper: The Unique Complexities of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder:

FASD is a multifaceted disability, characterized by exceptional clinical complexity, multiple layers of stigma, and wide-ranging impacts on individuals and their families across generations. Although these issues in and of themselves can apply to various disability groups, FASD is distinct in that these complex factors are often experienced in combination, at greater magnitudes, and with compounding and exacerbating effects. This disability represents the intersection of complicated biological, family, community, and societal circumstances that increase the risk for social inequity, intergenerational trauma, and health disparity. To fully understand FASD and its associated challenges, as well as to effectively identify and support individuals with FASD and their families, it is necessary to contextualize the disability within this complex web of risk and vulnerability. Working with individuals with FASD and their families requires empathy, flexibility, creativity, resourcefulness, and cross-disciplinary collaboration. FASD is a significant social and health issue, and targeted work is needed to better address the unique challenges, recognize and build strengths and resiliencies, and promote the long-term well-being of individuals with FASD, their families, and their communities.

The theme CanFASD chose this year (2022) is about the strengths and abilities of individuals with FASD.

Would you add anything else?

We know Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is much more than simply alcohol and pregnancy or women’s issues. So why are we having difficulty raising awareness and providing support?

3 thoughts on “What is FASD?

  1. Ab says:

    Thank you for posting and sharing this. I absolutely agree wholeheartedly. When addressing this as society, it needs a wholistic and multi-disciplinary approach. Thanks for your continued advocacy.