The 8th International Conference on FASD was held in Vancouver in March 2019. Over 750 delegates attended 4 days packed full of presentations, workshops, posters and displays. Generous donations from the public allowed NOFASD Australia to send two parents to learn more about FASD and meet specialists and other families. NOFASD uses donated funds to directly impact on the lives of families living with FASD. If you would like to make a donation please click here. Reflections written by these two parents are below.
What an opportunity I had – beautiful Vancouver, fascinating people from all over the world, and time on my own!
Being a very research and scientific based conference, much either went over my head or through it, leaving remnants of hope behind. I was in awe of so many incredibly intelligent people doing work I could never do. Research and science that will one day make a difference in the lives of my young children and for their children to come. Although it was technical stuff, I came away with hope. Hope that our world will one day fully acknowledge FASD and the devastating effects of alcohol on our unborn babes. Hope that there will be ways to prevent FASD from even happening, hope that there will be more and more interventions put in place for those who struggle today.
It was encouraging to hear the collective agreement on the need for a unified approach for diagnosis around the world.
As one lecturer said, “it is like a jigsaw puzzle without the picture – each group has a piece”. As people work together more and more in the FASD world, eventually we will have that picture – a picture that makes sense and really makes a difference. This is what gives me hope. As CJ from the ‘FASD Change Makers’ said so succinctly, “You don’t look for rainbows in puddles”.
The second parent wrote:
Recently, I was privileged to attend the 8th International Conference on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in Vancouver, BC. From the beginning, this conference had information literally bouncing off of the walls and I desperately made scrawls in my notebook in an effort to capture as much of this information as I could. As I re-read these notes now, I am reminded of the undeniable evidence that was presented in various forms and presentations, regarding the worldwide increase in prevalence of FASD, which highlights the importance of education and support to communities as a whole. The pre-conference day provided an opportunity for attendees to interact, discuss and record their answers to questions posed by presenters. I thoroughly enjoyed these activities and the industrious discussion amongst our small group.
Presentation subjects during the main conference ranged from research projects, oral health of children with FASD, FASD and sleep, microbiomes and much more. A key word from one of the presenters who is an Attorney at Law was…Relational. A definition of Relational is: Concerning the way in which two or more people or things are connected.
This word has been constantly rolling around in my mind and I am amazed at how relevant it is to many areas of FASD: Building relationships with professionals so you create a “team”; your relationship with the individual who has FASD; the relationship within the family of someone with FASD; developing a relationship from a chance meeting with someone you identify as a person who can assist with your individual FASD journey.
My family travelled with me to Vancouver and a highlight for us all was meeting the Change Makers. This is a group of adults living with FASD, who provided us with memorable opening and closing ceremonies. We got to spend some quality time with this group, with whom our son felt valued and accepted.
Amidst the important messages I gleaned from the conference, is the fact that there is much more to be done to reduce prevalence, impacts and the associated social problems from FASD. I was honoured to meet so many people from all walks of life, who all had a common interest….FASD. A time to remember…Thankyou.
To support families living with FASD to attend valuable events like this one please consider donating.
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Videos of many of the plenary sessions and presentations are now available online.
A caregiver in Canada has also written about her experiences at this conference. Read her blogs part 1 and part 2.
You might also like to read about the 2nd Australasian FASD Conference which was held in Perth.
Follow this link to read more blogs from NOFASD Australia.