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FASD Network of Saskatchewan marks awareness day with public breakfast, walk

Click to play video: 'Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder awareness walk aims to encourage support'
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder awareness walk aims to encourage support
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) Network of Saskatchewan executive director Andrea Kotlar discussed the importance of raising awareness for residents living with or supporting those with FASD on Friday – Sep 8, 2023

Saskatoon hosted an awareness walk and breakfast in Friendship Park on Friday to recognize the 24th annual International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day.

“Drinking is so engrained in our culture that we are always okay talking about drinking and alcohol, but we seem to be shy about talking about FASD,” said Andrea Kotlar, executive director of the FASD Network of Saskatchewan.

Sept. 9 is the official FASD Awareness Day, but the group decided to have its walk in the park on Friday.

FASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting individuals who were exposed to alcohol before birth.

The disorder can cause physical, cognitive, sensory and behavioral development issues ranging from mild to severe.

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“I think it’s highly stigmatized, so what we do is raise awareness and get people talking,” Kotlar said, adding that some people stigmatize certain populations that might appear more impacted by FASD.

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The FASD Network of Saskatchewan said that four per cent of Canadians live with the disability.

“That is higher than autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and Tourette’s combined,” Kotlar said, noting that there is no cure for the disability.

“It’s a spectrum and it impacts everyone differently. One thing we really want to make people aware of is that nobody drinks to harm their baby. There are many factors. FASD is not 100 per cent preventable. There are so many circumstances.”

She noted that 80 per cent of the population drinks and 60 per cent of pregnancies are unplanned, which adds to FASD’s prevalence in society.

The FASD Network of Saskatchewan provides support to people before and after pregnancy and to anyone else who is impacted.

An individual does not need to be diagnosed to access the group.

“Someone with FASD can go on to do exactly the same things as people who don’t have FASD. They might need some supports but everyone needs supports,” Kotlar said.

Kotlar said if anyone wants to call the FASD Network of Saskatchewan for supports, they can be reached at 1-866-673-3276.

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