TO THE HONOURABLE THE SPEAKER AND MEMBERS OF THE SENATE: The disability Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is not recognised by the federal government as a disability. This creates difficulties for families living with FASD with state and federal services
Petition by Anne Russell of the Russell Family Fetal Alcohol Disorders Association (Accessed on December 14th)
Commentary by Shauna Makie
Anne Russell of the Russell Family Fetal Alcohol Disorders Association in Australia has started a petition for the Speaker and Members of the Senate to recognize FASD as a federally recognized disability. Russell approaches the dilemma by having readers recognize the challenges that often go unseen for those individuals living with FASD. “Their days are spent trying to make sense of what is happening to them, rather than learning from their experiences” Russell declares, and that their cognitive disability goes masked by other social systems such as the welfare, employment, mental health, drug and alcohol, prison, and disability services as a result of their undiagnosed disability. Although some organizations do recognize FASD as a considerable cognitive disability that qualifies for certain programming, the Federal Government does not include it as a disability.
In Canada, particularly in Saskatchewan, FASD is recognized as a disability. However, the ambiguity of FASD as a disability is found in the process of diagnosis—or lack there of. Saskatchewan, and other provinces often suffer both financially and resourcefully in allocating services to attain an FASD diagnosis in order to qualify for appropriate programming. As Russell identified, without the government investing directly into understanding and diagnosing FASD, these individuals are placed in insufficient programs that lead to further suffering elongating the forging of secondary disabilities.