Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), an umbrella term used to describe a range of effects that can occur in a fetus exposed to alcohol before birth, is the most commonly known cause of developmental disabilities in the United States.
As many as 1 in 20 school aged children in the US have an FASD, highlighting the need for increased education and resources on how to support impacted families.
Below, you’ll find ways you can be an ally and provide support to members of your community impacted by FASD.
The Importance of Allyship
FASD remains widely misunderstood. By being an ally, you can help raise awareness about this condition and reduce stigma. Widespread awareness can lead to early diagnoses, appropriate interventions, and supportive communities.
Individuals with FASD often face difficulties in social situations, academic settings, and with finding employment. Being an ally means creating inclusive spaces where people with FASD are understood and can thrive without judgment.
Advocating for Equal Opportunities
People with FASD deserve equal access to education, healthcare, and job opportunities. As an ally, you can advocate for policies and practices that ensure their rights and needs are met.
Caregivers of individuals with FASD face unique challenges. Being an ally means offering emotional support, resources, and a listening ear to help them navigate challenges. Not sure where to start? Find tools that will help you build connections within your community.
Ways You Can Provide Support
1. Educate Yourself
Understanding FASD is the first step to effective allyship. Learn more about FASD to gain insight into the experiences and challenges faced by individuals with FASD and their families. Start here.
2. Actively Listen
Allow people impacted by FASD to share their experiences, challenges, and triumphs without judgment.
3. Avoid Judgment
People with FASD may display behaviors that are misunderstood by others. Instead of passing judgment, approach them with empathy and patience.
4. Be Patient and Flexible
Individuals with FASD might need more time to process information or complete tasks. Be patient and flexible in your interactions, offering support without pressure.
5. Create Inclusive Environments
In educational or workplace settings, advocate for accommodations that support the needs of people with FASD. Small changes can make a big difference in their success.
6. Offer Practical Help
Offer your assistance in practical ways, such as helping with transportation, grocery shopping, or daily tasks. Make a point to ask the person or their caregivers how they would like to be supported.
7. Spread Awareness
Use your platform, whether it’s on social media or within your community, to spread awareness about FASD. Share accurate information, personal stories, and resources.
Follow Illuminate Colorado on social media to share our posts throughout FASD Awareness Month and beyond!
8. Support Parental Well-being
Caregivers of children with FASD often experience high levels of stress. Offer them opportunities for a break, a listening ear, or even organizing support groups where they can connect with others who understand their journey.
Check out the NOFAS Colorado Facebook group, which offers regular support group meetings for caregivers impacted by FASD.
9. Advocate for Policy Change
Participate in advocacy efforts to promote policies that support individuals with FASD and their families.
10. Be a Friend
Form genuine friendships with individuals with FASD. Just like anyone else, they need networks of supportive community and social connections to thrive.
This FASD Awareness Month, you can begin your journey of learning how to be an ally to people with FASD.
By understanding their challenges, advocating for their rights, and providing practical support, you can make a meaningful difference in the lives of families impacted by FASD.
Throughout September, we have explored all of the ways we can support families impacted by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), including things you can learn, be, do, and say. This week, as we look back on all the work we’ve done, we will also look ahead to what we can do and share throughout the year for individuals and families across the state…
Effective communication, rooted in strengths-based language, is a powerful tool in supporting families impacted by FASD. This week, we are focusing on how allies can utilize communication that emphasizes positivity and empowerment…
This FASD Awareness Month, we at Illuminate Colorado are reflecting on our advocacy throughout 2023 to increase awareness among legislators of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and expand Colorado’s capacity to respond to the needs of individuals and families impacted by FASD…