September is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Month

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September is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Month and September 9th is the FASD Awareness Day. Individuals are encouraged to wear red shoes to raise awareness.

FASD is a lifelong disability that affects the brain and body of individuals who were exposed to alcohol in the womb. Each person with FASD has both strengths and challenges and need special supports to help them succeed in daily life.

FASD is the leading developmental disability in Canada and affects four per cent of Canadians (over 1.5 million people). That‘s more people than Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and Tourette‘s syndrome. Also, up to 94 per cent of individuals with FASD also experience mental health challenges. Research shows that early and appropriate supports can make a positive impact and improve outcomes for those with the disability.

In Canada, we use the term Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or FASD to describe the range of impacts that can occur in the brain and body of individuals prenatally exposed to alcohol. FASD is a whole-body disorder, affecting both the brain and body. There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy. Experts recommend that the safest option is no alcohol at all.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada's website, "those affected often have delays in development, intellectual problems and problems in their social lives. Impairments may include learning disabilities, particularly math, difficulty understanding consequences of actions, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, physical disabilities such as kidney and internal organ problems and skeletal abnormalities such as facial deformities”. The Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Initiative works to increase prevention, screening, diagnosis and support of FASD within the community and among service providers and families. It works with many community organizations and service providers to develop a network of informed partners to deliver appropriate care for people and families affected by FASD. It helps to ensure that all programs have culturally relevant FASD information and resources.

Simcoe County FASD Behaviour Support Services
Under the guidance of Mackenzie Health’s Centre for Behaviour Health Services this service is available to children and adults in Simcoe County or York Region with a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of FASD. A triage process assesses the use of existing community resources and determines the individual level of service appropriate for the referral. Prior to making a referral, community service providers should connect with their FASD Initiative Lead or a Key Services and Support (KSS) worker.

Parents and professionals in both Simcoe County and York Region can call a CTN Service Navigator at 1-866-377-0286 for more information and/or referral to a KSS worker.

For resources, please visit our FASD section on the CTN Online Resource Centre.

To learn more about FASD, follow the hashtags #redshoesrock and #FASDmonth on social media. You can also share a photo of you rocking your red shoes!
Image credit: Catulpa. Updated 2023.