Lauren Richardson, who is raising awareness for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Day on Sept. 9 showcases her red shoes, a symbol of sufferers and their supporters. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

Red shoes help raise awareness of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Bus ads and Sept. 9 awareness day remind parents ‘alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix’

People living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) are raising awareness of the condition, Sept. 9.

The disorders occur in people whose mothers drank alcohol during pregnancy and can include physical, cognitive, sensory and behavioural problems. People living with FASD can experience trouble in school and participate in high-risk behaviours, sometimes leading to legal issues.

ALSO READ: Lack of doctors causing frustration for patients

Lauren Richardson, who lives in Sidney, is an advocate for FASD sufferers and wants to break the taboo surrounding it. She was born in El Salvador before being adopted by a family in Ontario. She says that although her birth mother was known to have drunk alcohol during pregnancy, it was not until Richardson was 27 that she was diagnosed with FASD. Now 32, and a qualified Care Aide, Richardson says she was assessed as having a non-verbal learning disability at school but, largely because she was well-behaved and didn’t exhibit any defiant behaviours, was not diagnosed with FASD. If teachers and doctors had identified her condition earlier, she feels she would have received more support in her academic career, saying she “flew under the radar” at school, before graduating, and then initially “struggling in the workforce.”

“There’s still a lot of stigma and that’s why people don’t really want to talk about it,” she says. “Especially mothers, and there isn’t enough of an awareness out there in the general public.”

ALSO READ: Women and girls offered free day trip on navy warship

Keen to limit the shame felt by some sufferers and to enhance the public’s understanding, Richardson is supporting the Sept. 9 day of awareness. She is one of the more prominent Vancouver Island advocates for people living with FASD and, with help from Lamar Advertising, has had big adverts placed on the side of buses promoting the day. FASD sufferers wear red shoes to raise awareness and the bus advertisements are red and black, in keeping with the chosen symbolism of their movement. As further symbolism, they chose 09/09/19 as the date, due to the nine months babies spend in their mothers’ wombs.

“My message is that everybody’s different. Every child is affected differently and it’s often an invisible disability, so you can’t always see it. And people can absolutely live a full and successful life, if they have the supports in place,” says Richardson.

The British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health found that 11 per cent of Canadian women drink alcohol while pregnant. However, this is not necessarily solely negligent behaviour as research shows drinking alcohol during pregnancy can most consistently be predicted by a prior history of heavy drinking and/or being in an abusive relationship.

ALSO READ: CFL partners with Vancouver company to combat brain trauma

“I feel sorry for them [mothers who drink during pregnancy], because there is a way out and you can get the help that you need. But go get help. Stop,” Richardson says.

If you suffer from FASD you can find support at fasdoutreach.ca or the Facebook group “Flying with broken wings,” an online community of 5,000 members: facebook.com/groups/FASDaFlyingwithbrokenWings.

Richardson is also available to talk to FASD sufferers, their families or supporters at richardsonlauren@ymail.com.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Health

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

Oak Bay mayor posts daily videos during emergency

Emergency Operations Centre ahead of the curve

Topaz Park camp for Victoria’s homeless desperate for volunteers

More hands needed to help enforce COVID-19 standards

Victoria police safely recover items stolen from Sikh temple

A man broke into the Khalsa Diwan Society Victoria and stole religious and ceremonial items

Victoria police seek information on nine suspicious fires

The fires took place between March 5 and April 9 across Victoria and Esquimalt

Oak Bay closes parking near Willows Beach

The parking lot will remain closed until further notice

VIDEO: B.C. singer creates frontline workers tribute song

Cambree Lovesy’s song saluting those battling COVID-19 draws interest online

COVID-19 death toll reaches 50 in B.C., while daily case count steadies

B.C. records 34 new cases in the province, bringing total active confirmed cases to 462

Researchers to study whether plasma of recovered patients can treat COVID-19

Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood that contains the antibodies that protect against illness

Cowichan Valley man dies in single-vehicle collision

First responders called to Miller Road shortly after midnight on Thursday

B.C., Alberta health ministers urge public to stay home Easter weekend

Regional politicians, online petition calling for closure of provincial border to non-essential traffic

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

Most Read