What is FASD?
Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are the most common non-genetic causes of learning disability in the UK. They can have lifelong effects on individuals, families, and communities. And yet of all learning disabilities, they are perhaps the least commonly diagnosed, and the most poorly understood. Parents face uphill battles getting their children’s needs identified, diagnosed, and supported correctly. Few doctors have specialist knowledge of FASDs, social workers and teachers struggle to gain training and resources.
At FASD Awareness, we work to inform all, by raising public awareness of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (PAE) through our #BeAware social media campaign, films, and presentations. We offer support and activity days to the FASD community, monthly webinars, friendship/support groups, events, training, and research.
FASD Awareness was founded by Tracy Allen, a passionate woman who has raised two children, with FAS and FASD. The Charity has a history of grassroots support at a local level, its work to serve the FASD community is growing, and we now serve all, at a national and international level.
Britain has the fourth highest rate of FASD babies born in the world, with as many as 17% of UK children exhibiting symptoms consistent with prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE).
FASD is the most common cause of neurodisability in the Western world and presents around 3-6 times the rate of Autism Spectrum Disorder in the UK. There are more children born each year with FASD than with ASD, Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) combined, and yet the condition often remains hidden or misunderstood by the wider population. With awareness in the public still critically low, the demand for education in the general population and in key sectors – specifically those who are likely to engage with individuals on the FASD spectrum in a professional capacity – is clear.
Around 3⁄4 of children in the care system are deemed at risk and It has been estimated that individuals with FASD are up to 40 times more likely to become involved in the criminal justice system, if they are not identified, diagnosed, and given the correct Care Management Plan as recommended by the FASD NICE Guidance, click here to see guide.
We are proud to be part of The Time is Now Document, this sets out practical next steps and recommendations for progress for FASD in the UK, click here to view.
#FASD case study: Steven
This case study demonstrates the positive outcomes with early diagnosis and the right person-centred wrap-around care.
FASD Awareness works to inform all, by raising public awareness of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (PAE) .
Film 3: What can alcohol do to a foetus
#BeAware film and media campaign
At FASD Awareness we are acutely aware that with the recent release (March 2022) of the Nice National Guidance on FASD, there is still very limited information and training on FASD, and we are currently looking at improving services for Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD – in terms of prevention (maternity); diagnosis (new pathways) and support (commissioning support services). The Department of Health and Social Care have recently published the Health Needs Assessment for FASD, and publication of the NICE quality standards in March 2022. This was shortly followed by “The Time is Now: The National Perspective on Ramping up FASD Prevention, Diagnosis and Support Services” released on 21 March 2022.
We have been putting together plans for a greater awareness through our #BeAware campaign of films and case study short films. These films are information-rich resources for people looking to learn more about FASD. They have been created by award winning film maker Max Blustin of New Planet Film & Media and FASD Awareness and approved by Dr. Raja Mukherjee consultant psychiatrist and internationally acclaimed expert in FASD.
The campaign provides support and information that may lead to cases of FASD being prevented. FASD costs the British purse £2 billion a year. And that is just for those that have a diagnosis. Just preventing one case of FASD would be worth the cost of producing these films. This programme will instil an actionable understanding of both the condition and the circumstances in which it arises, enabling people to ask the right questions. Our existing films are used by the NHS and professional organisations worldwide and used as a training tool in schools and Universities.
The introduction of the new NICE Guidelines in the United Kingdom has brought a demand for greater understanding of FASD, its causes and its effects on society. Awareness of FASD is growing among community paediatricians, midwives, SENCOs, GPs, social workers, lawyers, police, foster carers and adoptive families. There is an urgent need for concise and accessible information to answer pressing questions, dispel myths and signpost further training or resources.
The last ten years have seen a growing understanding of Autism and ADHD, with increased levels of support and more positive diagnostic and therapeutic outcomes. It is essential FASD is provided the same illumination. Our #BeAware campaign will go a long way to elevate working knowledge of FASD.
The coming years will inevitably see further recognition of FASD and the challenging symptoms it presents. Looking abroad, other countries have specific FASD measures already in place; they have accepted the prominence of the issue and shown willingness to confront it.
The long-term benefits of an educated, precautionary approach to FASD cannot be underestimated. The potential for an individual to make a difference is extremely valuable; an apparently small decision in the present might alter the course of events to great advantage.