I’m going to say something very unpopular in this post. If you disagree feel free to tell me so but please avoid personal attacks and egregious use of inappropriate language.
I think it is time we put aside FASD prevention.
For the last 20+ years the primary focus relating to FASD has been prevention. I’d argue that most of that effort has been unsuccessful in moving the dial on the number of alcohol exposed pregnancies per year. A big part of that failure is probably driven by the huge cultural role of alcohol (not just here but around the world). We have alcohol at sporting events, alcohol at celebrations, alcohol at wakes, wine at the Lord’s Supper, cocktails at fancy events, champagne to celebrate the New Year, kegs at university parties. Tennessee Whisky, Scotch whisky, Russian Vodka, German Beer, French Wines, Japanese Sake, Peruvian Pisco - We are awash in spirits. No matter what studies are published, what statements by scientists and the surgeon general are issued, no matter what print, radio, or broadcast ads are run more alcohol exposed children are born every year.
I’d like to see us, all of us involved, persons affected by FASD, those that love and care for them, those that work for or represent them, those that lobby on behalf of prevention groups, all of us stand up and demand that the funds that are not achieving results in prevention be redirected into other efforts, like diagnostic services. And not just for kids but across the life span. Let’s detail the loss of human potential, and economic productivity. Did you know more people are affected by FASD than by AIDs at the height of the AIDs crisis in the USA? Where are the lapel ribbons or the movies about people fighting for FASD sufferer’s dignity, worth and civil rights? Let’s uncover how big and pervasive this issue really is. Let’s take those numbers and start lobbying for the same services and support that are given to those with hearing, or visual, or mobility impairment.* Let’s demand that equal moneys be spent on FASD as are currently being debated for re-authorization earmarked toward Autism.
Maybe once the magnitude of the problem is no longer swept under the rug and the cost of the issue is there right in everyone’s face – then the conversation about prevention might be able to have an impact. And if not, hopefully life will be improved for the millions who are currently suffering the effects in silence.
*I am by no means saying that folks with other disabilities have it easy or have all the support that they might need. Only that there is much more focused on support and accommodations for those recognized physical disabilities. I want our focus to mirror theirs.