Crowd funding program to create a professional education campaign – https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/video-preventing-fetal-alcohol-spectrum-disorder/x/14316407#/

FASD can be caused when any amount of alcohol is consumed at any time during pregnancy.  This is not something that even now is well known by the public.  In Australia FASD is not well identified, diagnosed or treated.  Children will have behaviour problems, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, mental health problems, substance abuse problems, and may come into contact with the criminal justice system later in life.

According to prevalence studies, FASD is an epidemic in Australia.  What can we do to prevent it? 

There has never been a national education campaign about prevention and this is what will help parents to make an educated decision about whether to drink alcohol or use drugs during pregnancy.  It will also inform medical professionals, teachers, lawyers, service providers and whoever is watching when the community announcement is run. Right now, there are so many different messages that even medical professionals are unsure as to whether alcohol is safe in pregnancy.  Help us raise money to create a professional prevention message for Australia.  We have a local award winning Production Company and an award winning filmmaker who have agreed to work with us at a fraction of their fee and now we need your buy-in.  The funding will be used to produce a professional campaign of international quality which will help save lives.

Children with FASD have a brain injury.  A cognitive impairment that causes them to have problems sleeping, understanding instructions, problems with their memory, trouble understanding abstract concepts, ADHD and a sensory dysfunction.  There are many other physical problems that can be connected to prenatal alcohol exposure but which are rarely diagnosed such as heart conditions, kidney problems and otitis media or glue ear.  But by far the worst is the brain injury that is caused.  It doesn’t always effect the intellect so children with FASD may have normal intelligence.  It is a cognitive impairment which affects the executive function of the child – the higher order thinking and decision making.  It is ubiquitous and regularly missed by professionals.

There are meltdowns, misunderstandings, bizarre decisions, mental illness, substance abuse, inappropriate sexual behaviour. Without accurate diagnosis, parents watch while their child tries hard to do what’s right only to be punished for messing up.  We try hard to parent these children the ‘right’ way but they don’t respond. We remember their complete bewilderment after a chastisement only to realise that they didn’t have a clue what they had done wrong.  Once diagnosed, we know it’s because they can’t always grasp the relationship between cause and effect nor can they always generalise learning.

Parents are also very proud of their children.  Our pride at seeing their generosity and compassion helps us when the sadness hits because very few people see what we see. If this condition isn’t identified early and most aren’t, as they get older, life wears them down.  Because they cannot keep up with others’ expectations, we watch helplessly as the sparkle that once shone in their eyes turns to anger because friend after friend moves on and job after job doesn’t work out and relationship after relationship falls apart. 

Children with FASD have high expectations without the proficiency to match.  They are universally loved by their families but universally misunderstood by their community. They have the noblest of dreams thwarted by the smallest of barriers and they take hostages thinking they have made friends. 

For birth, foster and adoptive parents alike, the most difficult of all is knowing that even though they are perfect to us in their own way, their potential without this condition is obvious.  We can see just how much they could have achieved without the cognitive impairment.  We wait anxiously for the next behaviour, the next doctor’s visit, the next problem to be dealt with, and the next service provider who recommends parenting classes. Drugs and alcohol represses their pain but it galvanises ours.  Their regular desire to end their life frightens us to death.

This campaign will help prevent many children from having their potential stripped and many parents from suffering the guilt, grief and loss that all parents feel when they see their children suffering helplessly and sometimes hopelessly because of something that was preventable

Anne Russell

Executive Officer

Russell Family Fetal Alcohol Disorders Association | rffada

M: 0412 550 540 | W: www.rffada.org |A: P.O. Box 6795 | Cairns, QLD, 4870 | E: elizabeth@rffada.org


Each year International FASD DAY falls on the 9th September

2016 – THE RFFADA will be supporting the Queensland FASD Support Group with their event on the Gold Coast on the 9 September

pdfFASD DAY at the University of Queensland222.06 KB

pdfFASD DAY at Parliament House in Canberra223.14 KB

The media that these events attracted can be viewed pdfhere351.42 KB