Red shoes help raise awareness of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Bus ads and Sept. 9 awareness day remind parents ‘alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix’

People living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) are raising awareness of the condition, Sept. 9.

The disorders occur in people whose mothers drank alcohol during pregnancy and can include physical, cognitive, sensory and behavioural problems. People living with FASD can experience trouble in school and participate in high-risk behaviours, sometimes leading to legal issues.

ALSO READ: Lack of doctors causing frustration for patients

Lauren Richardson, who lives in Sidney, is an advocate for FASD sufferers and wants to break the taboo surrounding it. She was born in El Salvador before being adopted by a family in Ontario. She says that although her birth mother was known to have drunk alcohol during pregnancy, it was not until Richardson was 27 that she was diagnosed with FASD. Now 32, and a qualified Care Aide, Richardson says she was assessed as having a non-verbal learning disability at school but, largely because she was well-behaved and didn’t exhibit any defiant behaviours, was not diagnosed with FASD.

If teachers and doctors had identified her condition earlier, she feels she would have received more support in her academic career, saying she “flew under the radar” at school, before graduating, and then initially “struggling in the workforce.”

“There’s still a lot of stigma and that’s why people don’t really want to talk about it,” she says. “Especially mothers, and there isn’t enough of an awareness out there in the general public.”

ALSO READ: Women and girls offered free day trip on navy warship

Keen to limit the shame felt by some sufferers and to enhance the public’s understanding, Richardson is supporting the Sept. 9 day of awareness. She is one of the more prominent Vancouver Island advocates for people living with FASD and, with help from Lamar Advertising, has had big adverts placed on the side of buses promoting the day. FASD sufferers wear red shoes to raise awareness and the bus advertisements are red and black, in keeping with the chosen symbolism of their movement. As further symbolism, they chose 09/09/19 as the date, due to the nine months babies spend in their mothers’ wombs.

“My message is that everybody’s different. Every child is affected differently and it’s often an invisible disability, so you can’t always see it. And people can absolutely live a full and successful life, if they have the supports in place,” says Richardson.

The British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health found that 11 per cent of Canadian women drink alcohol while pregnant. However, this is not necessarily solely negligent behaviour as research shows drinking alcohol during pregnancy can most consistently be predicted by a prior history of heavy drinking and/or being in an abusive relationship.

ALSO READ: CFL partners with Vancouver company to combat brain trauma

“I feel sorry for them [mothers who drink during pregnancy], because there is a way out and you can get the help that you need. But go get help. Stop,” Richardson says.

If you suffer from FASD you can find support at fasdoutreach.ca or the Facebook group “Flying with broken wings,” an online community of 5,000 members: facebook.com/groups/FASDaFlyingwithbrokenWings.

Richardson is also available to talk to FASD sufferers, their families or supporters at richardsonlauren@ymail.com.

Health

 

Bus ads aim to spread awareness of the day on Sept. 9. (Contributed by Lauren Richardson)

Just Posted

Search and rescue crews help locate 62-year-old Nanoose Bay mountain biker

RCMP: Man got lost on trail and did right thing by calling for assistance

Colwood drive-thru window smashed after suspect receives burger without mustard

Wendy’s staff call police after man allegedly rips Plexiglas barrier off window

39 caught speeding through Cowichan school zones

On June 1, North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP conducted speed enforcement in several school zones

Racist incident shocks Tseshaht First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP looking for information

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo’s Rocky Point

DFO marine mammal rescue unit arrived as whale broke free from prawn trap line

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

Police look for suspect after alleged assault at gas station in Nanaimo

Victim says he was punched in the head several times in late April at business in South Wellington

RCMP: Parksville cyclist hurt after being clipped by passing vehicle

59-year-old man suffered minor injuries; driver failed to stop

Highway 4 reopens after police incident near Port Alberni

Highway between Port Alberni and the West Coast was briefly closed in both directions

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Murder charge upgraded in George Floyd case, 3 other cops charged

Floyd’s family and protesters have repeatedly called for criminal charges against all four officers

Province buys Paul’s Motor Inn to house Victoria’s homeless population

Inn is the second hotel the province has purchased to support vulnerable community

VIDEO: Campbell River stunt-riding youths’ ATVs impounded

Drivers not wearing helmets, operating off-road vehicles on publicly owned roads and a city park

Woman fights off attacker while jogging in Port Alberni

RCMP look for witnesses of daytime incident

Most Read