It does take a whole village to raise a child! I remember once seeing a young girl in a restaurant and she had started to take a drink of wine. I ran up to her and stopped that drink. She said it was the first ‘drink’ she had since she found out she was pregnant. She then went on to say it was her Birthday and she was celebrating. I am always surprised by the lack of knowledge of FASD, but went on to explain even 1 drink can make a life-long permanent change in the brain of a baby. It is truly our responsibility to help others become aware of how their actions will affect others!
I asked the President of the Northern California Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders group to share her thoughts on FASD and here is what Kathryn Page, Ph.D, wrote:
“FASD has lots of peculiar aspects. One is its envelope, its interface with the rest of the world. In spite of several waves of public awareness campaigns and great avalanches of solid research, this condition does not stick in the minds of public, professional, academic or families–unless they live with it personally. Five percent of us are–to different degrees–burdened with the AD/HD-like symptoms, the sensory overwhelm, the crappy memory and appalling judgment that come with prenatal alcohol damage. Not to mention the profound sense of alienation and shame for not measuring up, when no one understands that you really are trying your hardest.
Five percent is a lot of us. The number is not hard science and it may never be, but very good
research has moved it up from the one percent it used to be. Without identification and intervention (rare indeed), this is the underbelly of our community inhabiting homeless shelters, people’s couches, jails, emergency rooms chronically.
Yet FASD is still not recognized even when the signs are blinking in red neon; “maladaptive behavior” or “unconscious conflict” or “poor parenting” or “fear of success” or “irresponsibility” or
some other misguided claptrap gets stuck on instead. Or the partially correct labels of AD/HD, Bipolar disorder, Learning Disabilities, Attachment Disorder, ODD…partially but uselessly, since that really doesn’t get to it.
My wish is that this condition rise to the level of autism in public awareness and professional competence. Until then families like mine will take our kids to clinician after clinician who will make recommendations that only fire up the frustration further as they backfire or just fizzle, much money spent and hopelessness rises all around.
Clinicians like Lise who are willing and able to see the whole picture are rare and precious.
We are forming a group for Northern California’s parents and professionals interested in bringing about training, diagnosis, intervention and support for families. Anyone who wants to join up is welcome–contact me if you want more information.” 707-996-7846. Kathryn Page, Ph.D.
More about Kathryn Page via her LinkedIn page:
Kathryn is a PhD in clinical psychology, did her internship at Stanford Psychiatry’s Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center, has published research in both hypnotherapy and political trauma (both for Stanford, the latter also in Mexico), and continues to do volunteer work. She is very involved with various collaboratives aimed at bettering the systems for youth/mental health/ education/community. Her interests lie in Restorative Justice and immigration reform as well as improving the well-being of Latino immigrant families.
Kathryn says her real mission in life is to raise awareness and resources around fetal alcohol to the same level that autism currently inhabits. Meanwhile, she reports she is privileged to support the mental health of our immigrant community in Marin County at Canal Alliance–with her love and joy and no small scrappiness!
Thank you so much Kathryn for sharing your knowledge about FASD from a personal standpoint! If any of you have time, interest, concern, or money to share for this cause, please join us.
FASD is a devastating condition that can be avoided altogether… Don’t drink if you are pregnant or have a possibility of getting pregnant!
Just a Thought by Dr. Lise’