Today is FASD Awareness Day, and last year we spoke to Maria Catterick, a Team Fostering carer who founded FASD Network.
Maria told us a little more about FASD Awareness Day
The awareness day has been running since 9th September 1999 and it aims to shine a light on Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Sadly, despite FASD being the leading cause of preventable learning disability, it is largely off the radar within our communities, and if it is off the radar, children will continue to be born with this condition. This initiative seeks to create awareness, provide support to those who are affected and ultimately prevent this condition.
FASD Network UK was established to create support and social change focused on the North East and Yorkshire. Prenatal alcohol harm has been known about since the 1700’s and it has been a diagnosable condition since 1973, but currently there remains little awareness and training for families and professionals, no commissioned services and very ad-hoc prevention strategies in our local communities.
We need a national strategy that feeds into local strategies. We need commissioned services. As a member of the FASD UK Alliance we have connected with public health, government, the NHS, and have been part of roundtables in Westminster to move the dialogue forward. More meetings are taking place this Autumn to continue this agenda.
Maria explained the challenges of FASD on families
Children with FASD have a complex array of physical, emotional, behavioural and cognitive impacts from prenatal alcohol exposure. Alcohol has a poisoning effect and can damage anything that is developing at the time of exposure.
It has to be said that whilst FASD can be regarded as a disability, many of our young people are amazingly talented and have wonderful opportunities to make a valuable contribution. We have athletes, artists, musicians, animal specialists, nature lovers, designers, carers, comedians etc. When we get early recognition, diagnosis and intervention, the positive skills and traits are magnified.
More about FASD Network
FASD Network UK has a website with lots of free resources available- www.fasdnetwork.org. We provide support groups and deliver training to families and practitioners. We are also one of the founders of the FASD UK Alliance and together we have an online support group with nearly 2000 families who actively learn and engage with one another on our vibrant closed Facebook group called FASD UK.
We welcome people learning about FASD and recommunicating the message to others and especially young people to spread the word that No alcohol = No risk. This is a preventable condition if people plan a pregnancy and abstain from alcohol during pregnancy.
We welcome practitioners creating information displays in public places and putting FASD on their training programmes.