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Funding Boost A First For The Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Community

Christmas has come early for the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) community this year in the guise of a $210,000 contract with the Ministry of Health using money from the Government’s Proceeds of Crime fund.

Up until now FASD-CAN, the New Zealand organisation supporting families and those with FASD since 2013, has been operating on donations and the goodwill of volunteers.

Claire Gyde, founding Chairperson of FASD-CAN says the funding is much appreciated and will help the organisation to support and mentor families living with FASD.

“It’s been a long time coming” she says. “With this funding, we can increase our reach and begin providing some tangible help. We’ll be establishing a pilot region where we will have a regional FASD Navigator on the ground.”

Ms Gyde says this model is similar to that used for other disability support organisations such as Autism NZ, but, unlike Autism, FASD is not a funded disability in New Zealand.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is a diagnostic term for a neurodevelopmental disorder which results from prenatal alcohol exposure. Individuals with FASD can experience complex physical, behavioural, learning and intellectual problems that persist throughout their lives.

Ms Gyde says she set up FASD-CAN with the objective of uniting caregivers, strengthening families, supporting individuals and educating about FASD.

“A lot of families feel helpless. Due to systemic failure to meet the needs of children with FASD, many end up in the justice sector or with poor mental health and addictions. Families are battling to be understood across all sectors”.

Although there is no prevalence data for New Zealand, FASD is estimated to affect two to five percent of the population.

“Most people don’t realise how prevalent FASD is,” says Ms Gyde.

“With overseas data and our drinking culture, I believe New Zealand would sit at the upper end of the estimates. That’s up to 250,000 people in our team of 5 million! Recognition is long overdue.”

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