September is International FASD Awareness Month. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recognized the first FASDay on 9/9/99, symbolizing the ninth day of the ninth month of the year to remind the world that during the nine months of pregnancy women should abstain from alcohol. This day has been permanently expanded to September as International FASD Month.
This month we would like to bring attention to the silent crisis that exists in the foster care system. We know that the prevalence of FASD in the US is 1 in 20. Studies, however, indicate that prevalence in children in care is 32 times higher than in the general population. Many children with an FASD experience significant behavioral challenges (symptoms of this developmental disability), which can lead to disruption of foster placements. In 2018, 42% of children in foster care in NC had 2 or more placements, 22% had over 4 placements. Correct diagnosis before entry into foster care, followed by appropriate interventions, could reduce placement disruption and lead to improved child welfare outcomes.
Unfortunately, about 90% of those with an FASD have a missing diagnosis of FASD or are misdiagnosed with a wide array of mental health diagnoses. This reality is important in that mental health diagnoses lead us to believe that behavioral issues can be changed. Once we realize, however, that those behaviors are a result of exposure to alcohol in utero, we know that it is not that the child won't change, but that s/he can't change. With the correct diagnosis, we can provide strategies and supports that accommodate the individual rather than insisting s/he change something (brain damage) that cannot be accomplished.
Today, September 8, we released a podcast with Sara Messelt, Executive Director of Proof Alliance. She discusses the new Minnesota law requiring screening of each child as they enter the foster care system. Listen to this important legislative action which supports early diagnosis, early intervention, and implementation of strategies which can lead to positive life outcomes.
We have a great lineup of other podcasts this month:
* September 1 A Bio Mom's FASD Journey
* September 15 Delaney Kay, Adult diagnosed this spring
* September 22 Nate Sheets, Oregon Behavior Consultation, FASD Specialist
* September 29 Lisa Nesbitt, NC Disability Rights
You can find all episodes of the FASD Informed Podcast series on Podbean, Apple Podcasts, Google, Spotify, and Stitcher.
Please help us spread awareness every month, but during this month double your efforts! Thank you.