Nobody knows prevalence of FASD in Yukon, says Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society executive director
Mike McCann, the executive director of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Society of Yukon, says diagnosing adults will help clear up wrong impressions. ‘We assume the behaviour we’re seeing in front of us is wilful behaviour.’ (Philippe Morin/CBC)
The Yukon is going to train a team of doctors and psychologists to diagnose adults with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
Yukon already has FASD diagnostic teams for children and youth, but experts from southern Canada visit to diagnose adults.
Mike McCann, the executive director of the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society, says a diagnosis can be particularly helpful when people are involved in the courts and their condition is not known.
“We automatically assume competence. And we assume the behaviour we’re seeing in front of us is wilful behaviour — so if they just tried harder, if they just listened more,” McCann says.
McCann says no one knows how many Yukoners have FASD. He says it could range anywhere from five to 25 per cent of the population.
He says old prejudices and stigma still prevail making it difficult for a community, family or individual to ask for help.
“We’re still associating shame with the disability you will hear that it’s 100 per cent preventable but that’s a relatively simplistic statement,” he says.
“Many women become pregnant, and they’re drinking and don’t know they’re pregnant. So there’s no malicious intent.”
The diagnosis will be on a voluntary basis.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Network.