What is our goal?
Our goal is to revive and completely fund a summer camp for families affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). After six years of operation, camp was discontinued in 2008 when a grant was lost.
What are FAS and FASD?
Currently, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is the leading known cause of mental retardation in the developed world. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) describes a continuum of permanent birth defects caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy, which includes, but is not limited to FAS. FASD affects more newborns every year than Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, spina bifida, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) combined. It is estimated that between two and five of every 100 children born in the US suffer from FASD. May, Gossage, et al. 2009.
This camp is designed for the entire family; children diagnosed with FASD, their parents, and siblings are all welcome. Kids spend five days swimming, hiking, crafting, and participating in a host of other camp activities. This experience gives children and adolescents affected by FASD the chance to meet others who share similar everyday challenges. These challenges may result from prenatal alcohol exposure or being the sibling of someone diagnosed on the spectrum, but everyone can find strength and valuable information from the relationships they forge at camp. Children are supervised by professionals and community volunteers, allowing their parents to attend educational sessions led by FASD experts. Former educators have included pediatricians, occupational therapists, and psychologists from the University of Washington School of Medicine, along with parents experienced in raising children and young adults with FASD. The forum that results enables those impacted by FASD to share their experiences, learn from one another, and to continue building networks that will serve them for years to come. These opportunities for education, networking, and respite are so meaningful to families, that attendance grew from 65 participants in 2003 to 125 participants in 2008.
While the brain damage caused by prenatal alcohol exposure is permanent, postnatal environmental factors have a profound effect on the ability of a child to thrive. Paramount among these factors is parental involvement in the child's life. A family-centered approach has become recognized as the standard of care for children with special needs. While camp will certainly be fun for the kids, we also see the power in giving parents and caregivers an opportunity for education, respite, and networking, all of which have demonstrated the ability to improve quality of life for families affected by FASD.
May PA, Gossage JP, Kalberg WO, et al. 2009. Prevalence and epidemiologic characteristics of FASD from various research methods with an emphasis on recent in-school studies. Dev Disabil Res Rev.2009;15(3):176-92. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19731384
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