Looking to learn more about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and grab some lunch? You’re in luck, because The Northwest Central Alberta FASD Network is hosting such an event on Sept. 8, 2017.
The Leader sat down with FASD community specialist Patty Stephen and board directors Janet and Danielle Ross to get some information on the upcoming lunch and learn.
“International FASD day is on September 9th and we will be hosting a free public barbeque in recognition of this day on September 8th from 11:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. in front of the Town of Slave Lake office,” says Janet. “The point of the barbeque is to spread around information about FASD; there is a lot of miscommunication and misunderstanding about it. We know that if the fetus isn’t exposed to alcohol FASD doesn’t happen, so there is a lot of shame and blame on moms and we want to change that.”
Stephen says there will be resources available to families or individuals to take a look at during the event.
“It’s a spectrum and FASD does not affect any two people the same way,” she says. “The effects can range from mild to severe and it isn’t curable; once the damage is done it can’t be fixed and is life-long.”
Stephen adds, “Ten areas of the brain are looked at during assessment for FASD; at least three of the areas need to have significant impairment for the individual to be placed on the spectrum and prenatal exposure to alcohol needs to be confirmed.”
According to Janet, getting the parents to admit that there the fetus was exposed to alcohol is a challenge because of the stigma attached.
“We know that mothers do not intentionally drink to give their children FASD; it is one to two months before a woman knows she is pregnant and some women don’t know they are expecting up to three months into their pregnancy,” she says. “Ninety per cent of women stop drinking once they know they are pregnant.”
It is facts such as the ones above that Stephen and Janet are trying to spread. The two of them along with other individuals from the Northwest Central FASD Network want to create an open dialogue about it.
“We’re currently hiring a First Nations parent and child assistance mentor in the Swan River community and seeking grant funding to expand our FASD mentors from one to two so we can completely cover the region of Slave Lake, Wabasca and outlying areas due to the need and size of region,” says Stephen. “The Slave Lake FASD Coalition will be meeting in the fall and anyone interested is welcome to attend.”
For more information on FASD, visit http://nwcfasd.ca.
(l. to r.) Janet Ross, Patty Stephen and Danielle Ross.