PUBLISHED: 5:25 PM on Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Understanding makes us a more compassionate community
April has been declared Alcohol Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the Alaska Mental Health Trust is currently in the middle of their awareness campaign "You KNOW me." Southeast Alaskans like other people have challenges and problems, due to heredity, biology, psychology, or choices - our own or other people's.

Some of these challenges, differences, or problems are still strongly stigmatized. Because of this, the CCW decided to take a more thorough look at one specific problem: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, FASD; a spectrum of disabilities stemming from brain damage caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. Because chances are, each and every one of us knows somebody suffering from FASD. We know them. We might just not know it.

Until recently often going undiagnosed, or being ascribed to behavior problems, moral failure, or bad parenting, FASD is a reality, especially in Alaska. "It's here, and it's not going away," as one advocate for families affected by FASD put it.

It is the CCW's hope that we can assist the many families affected, as well as the volunteers in the community working to make life more liveable for FASD families by helping straighten out some misconceptions and myths about FASD. It is also our hope that increased awareness and knowledge about FASD will lead to an increase in understanding and compassion for those affected, as we believe that respect and understanding for individuals with any kind of disability makes us a better community.

Christina Holmgren