Amherst recognizes fetal alcohol disorder day

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Raising awareness about FASD

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is not just a women’s issue, it’s a community one. That was the message early Monday during a ceremony to mark International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Prevention Day.

A group of people celebrated International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Prevention Day with a ceremony in front of Amherst First Baptist Church on Monday. The ceremony included the playing of Here Comes the Sun on the church bells. 

AMHERST – Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is not just a women’s issue, it’s a community one.

That was the message early Monday during a ceremony to mark International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Prevention Day.

“The goal of today is to raise awareness about the impact of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder within the community and to educate women about the dangers of consuming alcohol during pregnancy,” Sandi Patridge of Addictions Services and a member of the organizing committee. “We are also trying to overcome the stigmas associated with FASD.

A couple dozen people participated in the short ceremony that included the playing of the Beatles hit Here Comes the Sun on the bells at First Baptist Church and the distribution of information of what FASD is.

The disorder is an umbrella term for the range of harms caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. These may include lifelong physical, mental, behavioural and/or learning disabilities.

It’s also considered one of the most preventable developmental disabilities and among the most misunderstood.

Donna Farrell of Maggie’s Place said FASD is a silent disorder not many talk about.

“Sometimes it’s misdiagnosed as ADHD or some other attention-deficit disorder,” Farrell said. “The message we’re trying to get out is that it’s the largest preventable mental illness or disorder.”

Farrell said women need support to not drink while pregnant and there shouldn’t be any stigma associated with that choice.

“Women need support, especially in Nova Scotia because we have such a huge culture of alcohol,” Farrell said. “Many times when a woman is offered a drink and she says no the first thing people think is there’s something wrong. That shouldn’t be the case. It’s about choice and making healthy choices,” she said.

Charlotte Ferguson from Public Health said Monday’s ceremony should help spread the word about FASD and the music played at the church shows that dealing with an FASD child is not always dark.

Lisa Cuvelier, whose adopted son suffers from FASD, said she had to celebrate every bright moment and accomplishments. While there are many dark days and challenges, she said there are some bright spots.

darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: Addictions Services, Beatles, First Baptist Church

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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