[Disclaimer: I do not endorse all the contents of this post.]
I’m gonna tell you about a disability that no one talks about even though you definitely know somebody that has it. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. It used to be called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, now people have a really hard time with the new name but just think of it like autism spectrum disorder – it’s a spectrum disorder meaning everybody’s symptom’s looks different. FASD is an umbrella term meaning it covers several diagnoses that all relate to pre-natal alcohol exposure.
How much alcohol can cause this disability? We used to think a lot – we used to think this was a disability only for children of alcoholics.
Now science is showing us that even small amounts of alcohol early in pregnancy before a woman even knows she’s pregnant can cause this, which means numbers are way higher than anyone imagined.
We used to say that FAS affected 0.1% of the population. Then 1% of the population. But now, a very large study done by UNC in 2018 showed that 1.1-5% of the population could have an FASD. But wait, that’s only the conservative estimate – the less conservative estimate was 3-10% of the population.
So let’s cut this number down the middle and say that’s 5%. How much is 5% of America? 5% of America is 16 million people, which is larger than the population of New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago combined.
This means that FASD is 2.5 times more common than autism, but why don’t we talk about it? It’s because it’s stigmatized. We don’t wanna talk about something that we think lays “blame” somewhere, but here’s the thing, I don’t think anyone drinks with the intention of harming a child.
There are three reasons why pregnancies might be alcohol exposed:
1. They didn’t know that they were pregnant. 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, most women don’t know until 4-6 weeks, you don’t know.
2. Your doctor said it’s okay. A ton of doctors say that.
3. You can’t stop. You can’t just tell someone to stop drinking, you have to give them the tools to stop drinking.
If you’ve watched this far, then good job for you. You’re probably wondering what FASD looks like. Much like ADHD and autism, FASD is an invisible disability, and in fact has many of the same symptoms as ADHD and autism.
FASD is just another form of neurodiversity 1. There’s a ton more to talk about here but I’ll add them in future videos so stick around if you want to know how I know that you know someone with FASD.
- I actually hate the usage of this term here lol since the creator of the tiktok obviously would like to reduce the number of people born with FASD, and neurodiversity as a label comes with the belief that that all neurotypes are normal and should not be exterminated