REGINA – One in every 100 babies born in Canada has some form of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). However, more troubling is that in Saskatchewan that rate is estimated to be even higher.
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“Anywhere from two to five per cent of babies born in Saskatchewan have FASD,” said Lisa Workman, the chair of the Regina FASD Community Network. That compares to one per cent nationally. “It says that we have an issue with addictions in our province.”
On International FASD Awareness Day, a group of people in Regina want more of us to start talking about the disorder. Dozens of people walked along 5th Avenue over the noon-hour Wednesday in a show of support for people living with the disorder.
“My mom drank when she was having me,” said Simon Moccasin, a participant in the walk. He was only diagnosed with FASD in 2007 at the age of 33. “It didn’t affect the intellectual part of my brain as much but the other side, like behavioural, thought patterns, speech at times.”
“Generally, I consider it an invisible disability. You can’t assume that just because a person looks like they have FASD or because a person looks normal, they don’t have FASD,” said Workman.
Tanya Bunnie’s 30-year-old sister has FASD. Their mother has passed away, so Bunnie and her family have taken over the responsibility of caring for her.
“We went through hard times and how to deal with the disorder,” said Bunnie. “Growing up with it we didn’t really know very much and health nurses would only tell us so much. It was kind of a thing we had to learn.”
Workman said one of the biggest challenges concerning services for people with FASD is the difficulty finding positive diagnoses.
“The only way you can diagnose FASD is to say with 100 certainty that the mom drank during pregnancy and not a lot of moms are willing to stand up and say this is the situation,” said Workman.