Monday, October 6, 2014


I've buried the lead so - your going to have to read all the way to the end to get the good news!

Image is a Charles Schulz Peanuts cartoon 
altered by me so that the characters are wearing red shoes.

Anyone that knows us knows why FASD is so important to our family.  We knew Little Man had FASD when we adopted him, in many ways that made us “lucky.”  We were able to bypass the many years and many, many specialists most people have to slog through to get an answer that made sense.  What we still faced – and face each and every day - is that almost NO ONE knows about FASD.  That makes me ANGRY and SAD and just about drives me CRAZY.  FASD - is nothing new, nothing mysterious, and most assuredly nothing uncommon. The CDC may estimate FASD at 1% of the population but the DSM V says about 2-5% of the population is affected and some studies put it at closer to 12%. That means AT LEAST 80,000 babies each year are born with it in the U.S. and it is probably closer to 200,000.

So WHY doesn't everyone at least know what it is?  Why don't we all know more a lot more than that about it? Why is there no research on what prevents the poor outcomes people affected often suffer in life? Why don't we have support systems in place for them? Why don't we have specialized health care providers for them like we do for other disabilities?  Why is there nowhere in the US you could even get a degree (no less an advanced degree) specializing in FASD?

Just looking at a few statistics about people with disabilities supported by our government you would see the following:

Category                                   % of Population                         % of funding
Musculoskeletal disorders                     13%                                         32%
Blindness                                              2.3%                                         2%
Deafness                                              2.1%                                         2%

And then there is FASD.  It is not even considered a disability.  If the person affected has an IQ below 70 they may be able to qualify as intellectually disabled.  But people who are deaf, or blind, or mobility impaired do not have to prove any intellectual impairment to have their challenges recognized and supported, only those with FASD.  Comparing it with autism for a moment - 1.5% of the population is considered on the autism spectrum.  3% of government monies are spent on support for those people and there is no requirement for them to show intellectual impairment for diagnosis or support. 

I am not by any means suggesting that autism, or blindness, or deafness, or mobility impairment are unimportant.  I am only contrasting them with how consistently unknown and  unsupported FASD is.  So what is the reason for such persistent discrimination?  I believe that it is in a large part because public messages and education about FASD are universally about prevention.  The mission of the ONLY large national organization focused on it is (and has always been) prevention.  Of the 30,000+ published articles on FASD fewer than 10 focus on how to help people with it.   No one is looking at the people already affected – they are the throw-aways, the “it’s too late let’s move onto to stop the next generation” and that attitude, that stigma of being the “unhelpable” becomes self-perpetuating. 

This prevention only focus is why everywhere our family goes we first have to convince people that Little Man CAN succeed, that he’s worth the effort, and then go on to teach them about what he needs in order to do so.  But even before that, we had to educate ourselves. Because just knowing a diagnosis doesn't really help you understand what FASD is and how to help your child (or brother, or sister, or parent, or husband, or wife, or employee, or client.) Nope. A diagnosis is just a diagnosis. And resources to learn about FASD, even if you are a highly motivated caregiver for someone affected, are few and far between. 

Anyone who knows me knows that I can't just let things go.  I always have to have a plan.  I got truly lucky when I met Adrienne Elhart Bashista.  She was already hard at work setting up a nonprofit to operate nationally spreading the kind of training and awareness we really need to help those with FASD and I was thrilled to join in and help her found Families Affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FAFASD).  Parents need the training FAFASD offers, spouses and significant others need it, educators, doctors, nurses, lawyers, social workers, police and judges, counselors, employers, everyone does!!   Please visit our website at and consider making a donation to help us reach more people!!  

And at last - here is the good news - WE ARE OFFICIALLY 501c3 RECOGNIZED!!!  We just got the letter from the IRS.  This means any thing you give is 100% tax deductible and we can now apply for grants and sponsorships!    


  1. Congratulations to you both! Go forth and do good works!
    -Karen Anderson