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Taking FASD support to a new level

Did you know that FASD affects 4% of Canadians? Based on previous census data there are potentially 6000 youth living with FASD in Waterloo Region. September is FASD Awareness Month, and we are talking with Karen Huber and Michelle Hughes, FASD Coordinators, to answer questions about this lifelong disability and introduce Plexus, a new collaborative offering even more support to those living with FASD in our community. 

What is FASD?

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a term used to describe impacts on the brain and body of individuals prenatally exposed to alcohol. FASD is a lifelong disability whereby individuals will experience some degree of challenges in their daily living and need support with motor skills, physical health, learning, memory, attention, communication, emotional regulation, and social skills to reach their full potential.  

How does FASD compare to other more commonly known disabilities? 

FASD is at approximately 2.5x more common than Autism Spectrum Disorder, 19x more common than Cerebral Palsy and, 28x more common than Down Syndrome. These rates are based on confirmed pre-natal exposure, we know that FASD is underdiagnosed and misdiagnosed which suggest the prevalence rate is higher.  

Who is at highest risk for FASD?

Current data supports that high rates of FASD are occurring in women aged 35 with a university education. But FASD does not discriminate, it doesn’t affect one specific demographic or community. Community awareness and accurate information is key to stamping out stigma and reducing the risk for all pregnancies 

What is the link between FASD and mental health?

People with FASD are an important group to consider when talking about mental health. They face extremely high rates of mental health challenges and over 90% of people with FASD will have at least one mental health challenge in their lifetime. 

What is the stigma associated with FASD?

FASD carries significant stigma that shows up everywhere; spaces, places, communities, services, supports and systems.  Most stigma is rooted in lack of understanding as well as cultural and societal perceptions of alcohol and alcohol use. 

 We can start to stamp out stigma by: 

  • Including those living with FASD in conversations
  • Recognize that 61% of pregnancies are unplanned
  • No person drinks intentionally to harm their child
  • Provide accurate, evidence-based information to the community
  • Use person centered language (example: Jeremy is a young boy with FASD.) 

What is Plexus? 

Plexus is a collaborative between Carizon Family and Community Services, KW Habilitation, Lutherwood and Sunbeam Developmental Resource Centre, who have all come together under one umbrella to provide a single point of contact for children, youth and families needing support for FASD, making it extremely easy, and taking the guesswork out of understanding where to go for help.   

Who can connect with you and how should they be in touch? 

Those living with FASD, families and service providers can reach out to us for support to navigate services, programs, and recreational activities.  If you or someone you know can use support, visit our website, plexusfasd.ca to reach us directly.