Text: Millions of people are living with FASD.
If 2-5% of the population has an FASD, that means 6.5 – 16 million people are living with FASD in the USA.
6.5 – 16 million
Text: When it comes to living with, helping, supporting, loving, and being with a person with an FASD, we must ALWAYS think brain.
Fact #45: shifting from WON’T to CAN’T is a crucial concept in supporting people with FASDs and their families.
Text: Families of people with FASDs need change. People with FASD need change. We need society to shift understanding of behavioral symptoms from “they won’t” to “they can’t.” It’s a crucial piece of the puzzle for our community.
FASD is a spectrum disorder. Timing and amount of alcohol consumption, age and health of the mother, number of previous children, genetics, and other factors all impact the changes in the developing brain when it’s exposed to alcohol.
People with FASDs have certain brain differences in common, but if you’ve met one person with an FASD…you’ve met one person with an FASD!
Text: Lack of caregiver support keeps advocacy about FASD from happening.
When caregivers and families of people with FASD are burnt out, left with no resources, and exhausted they find it difficult to advocate for their loved ones…or for FASD awareness in general.
FASD Fact #42: People with FASDs are at risk for victimization, scape-goating, and false confessions
FASD Fact 42:
Developmental differences, suggestibility, and difficulty predicting consequences put people with FASDs at risk for victimization, scapegoating, and false confessions.
- FASD is a neurodevelopmental and neurobehavioral disorder.
- It is not a mental illness.
- Mental illnesses can co-occur for people with FASDs, but not all people with FASDs have mental illnesses.
- Secondary characteristics of depression, anxiety, isolation, aggression, and other reactions to unmet needs are common for people with FASDs.
- When people with FASDs seek help with mental illnesses or secondary conditions, it’s important that they have access to providers and treatment options that fully understand FASD.
FASD Fact #40: The brains of people with FASD are less plastic than the brains of neurotypical people
The brains of people with FASDs are less “plastic” than the brains of neurotypical people.
Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to change and heal in response to stimuli.
People with FASD have brains that are different on a cellular, developmental,chemical, structural, and functional level. Their brains have less capacity for neuroplasticity.
Therapies and intervention that rely on neuroplasticity to improve brain function are less effective for people with FASDs.
People with FASDs CAN learn! But the focus needs to be growing their strengths vs. trying to “fix” their disability.
FASD Fact #39: How FASD happens and what alcohol exposure does to the developing brain is well documented.
We have years of evidence and 20,000+ published studies on the impact of FASD on the brain.
How FASD happens (through alcohol exposure during pregnancy) and what it does (alters the structure and function of the brain, down to the cellular level) and what it looks like (common behavioral symptoms) are FACTS, all well documented in scientific literature
FASD Fact #38: Many behavioral symptoms of FASD are due to a combination of differing brain functions.
Text: Many behavioral symptoms of FASD are due to a combination of differing brain functions.
For example, explosive rages could be:
- Sensory overload
- Overactive limbic response (fight or flight)
- Difficulty communicating
- “Age” appropriate developmental differences (meaning a reaction appropriate for developmental age, vs. chronological)
- FRUSTRATION due to being misunderstood or punished for behaviors directly related to a person’s disability
- Stress response due to inappropriate consequences over time
- Low blood sugar, mitigated by sugar cravings and a need for more frequent meals/higher quality foods
Or any combination of the above (plus many other possibilities!)…