The Loneliness of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

According to a 2018 report by the Canada FASD Research Network, an estimated 1.5 million Canadians have FASD. That's about 4% of the country's population. For children in welfare or foster care, the prevalence could be as high as 11%.

In an interview on CBC radio, Miles - an individual with FASD - says that many people don't understand the daily struggles for people living with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder or FASD. "In school, it was: I was lazy. I wasn't trying. I didn't care. And then I would get detention — when in actuality what was happening was, I maybe was struggling with the sensory issues: it was too bright. It was too loud. There was too much going on," he told White Coat, Black Art host Dr. Brian Goldman. Himmelreich was born with FASD. It's a diagnosis caused by the brain damage that occurs with prenatal exposure to alcohol.

Symptoms can include learning disabilities, speech delays and trouble regulating emotions. It can be difficult to diagnose, as the symptoms are similar to other developmental disabilities.

As a teenager, Himmelreich says he had the developmental capacity closer to that of a seven-year-old. But the school system and social structures around him, he says, expected him to behave the same as his peers without FASD.

 

This created a loneliness for Miles and many others with FASD experience something similar. To learn more about Miles' story and FASD, check out this article on CBC and take the time to listen to the interview on CBC radio.