It's #timeforchange this FASD Awareness Day

09 September 2018

Today is FASD Awareness Day and 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.

 

We heard about the message that FASD Network are sending this year

FASD Network UK was established to create support and social change focused on the North East and Yorkshire. This year FASD Network UK is highlighting the current state of play using a hashtag #TimeforChange. Prenatal alcohol harm has been known about since the 1700’s and it has been a diagnosable condition since 1973, but at the current time there remains little awareness and training for families and professionals, no commissioned services and very adhoc prevention strategies in our local communities. 

We are putting out a statement that it is #TimeforChange. 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.

 

  • We need medical professionals trained up to recognise, diagnose and support children and adults with FASD as many go without a diagnosis and services and outcomes can be very poor without the right support. 
  • We need educators to accommodate our children appropriately in classroom settings so that they can thrive and hit their academic potential rather than more than 60% currently failing in schools or being excluded. 
  • We need foster carers, adopters and kinship carers informed about FASD. 70% of children with FASD come through the fostering and adoption services, yet the focus is only on attachment so the physical and cognitive needs are left unmet which adds to the emotional and behavioural challenges children exhibit. This makes for greater difficulties in parenting children with FASD. Many of our children can also present as more able that they are so can often be overlooked until they hit a crisis and services can be slow to respond
  • Adult services do not have an integrated system to support our adults with FASD to thrive leading to many challenges around safety due to their vulnerabilities.

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 and how to support #TimeForChange

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.