The Dual Layers of FASD Stigma

Stigma and discrimination can be experienced across different sectors, including from the public, the education system, the workplace, the child welfare system, the health and social services systems including disability services, and the media. The perceptions arise that FASD persons are unable to care for themselves or lead successful lives, which can impact the family and extended community networks who support individuals through ongoing advocacy and support programs.

Ongoing FASD training and education for educators and health and social services providers can reduce discrimination and lack of access to supports and services. Educators should be provided with informed training about how to support individuals with FASD in and out of the classroom. For example, the Canada FASD Research Network offers FASD for School Level Staff, a series of online courses that provide teaching strategies and characteristics for an FASD-friendly school and classroom.

Integrating information about FASD into medical, nursing, social work, and teaching curricula can foster professional support for individuals with FASD. Health and social service providers should access evidencebased materials about FASD to help improve their capacity for referral, diagnosis, and support. Educational pamphlets and resources with local supports for individuals with FASD and their families can help families in accessing diagnostic and support services.

Stigma associated with FASD is both external emerging from public viewpoints, and internal emerging from within. The blame comes from outside, while the shame rises from inside. This dual layer of both external and internal pressures adds to the complexity of FASD.