Lack of Services for Fetal Alcohol Disorders is Not Just a Crisis, it’s an Injustice

As a behavior consultant for children, teenagers, and adults with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs), I consult with dozens of families and professionals per year and come into contact with hundreds more through trainings. These families live all over the world, and if there is one commonality between them all, it’s this: they are all desperate for services and receive virtually no support from any system. That is an injustice.

How many people does this affect? A recent study conservatively estimated that FASD prevalence among US children is 5%. [1] Conservatively. That’s 1 in 20 children whose brains (and bodies) have been impacted in some way by exposure to alcohol in the womb. Autism is currently estimated to be 1 in 59 children, or just a little over 1.5% of the population. [2]

So 5% of the population (and their families) are living with the consequences of prenatal exposure to alcohol. These “consequences” typically start showing themselves through learning difficulties and challenging behaviors. Note: people with FASDs often have no outward sign of a disability — you do not have to have “facial features” to have an FASD. In fact, many people with FASDs have normal IQs and can speak well. All of these strengths only contribute to their invisible disability, making finding services even more difficult because they don’t “seem” to need as much support. That is an injustice.

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