Background and Objective
The manner in which language is used reflects how people in a society view one another. Historically, indi- viduals with disabilities have experienced discrimination through the use of stereotypic or demeaning lan- guage. Individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) may be particularly susceptible to these negative impacts, particularly given the stigma associated with the disability. We discuss how individuals with disabilities may be affected by our use of language.
Materials and Methods
Current definitions of FASD from Canadian provincial/territorial, national, and international governments and organizations were collated. Recent academic definitions found in the peer-reviewed literature were also reviewed. All definitions were independently coded by the two authors to identify definitions which were based upon current and emerging evidence and which included factual information about FASD. A standard definition of FASD was developed through an iterative process, including expert consultation and feedback from the larger FASD community
We propose an evidence-based, lay-language standard definition of FASD to be used in a Canadian context, intended to reflect the range of strengths and challenges of individuals with FASD as well as the whole- body implications of the disability.
Our standard definition of FASD provides an opportunity to ensure consistency in language, increase awareness of FASD, promote dignity, and reduce stigma upon people with FASD and their families. We encourage governments, policy makers, service providers, and researchers to adopt the authors standard defi-nition of FASD, with the goal of increasing awareness of FASD, reducing stigma, and improving communication and consistent messaging about the disability.