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To: The Minister for Disability Services
Help kids with FAS-D
Dear Minister Hon Coral O'Rourke,
As a parent, finding out your child has disability will raise many questions. Particularly about what services and supports may be available.
Early access to services and supports is critical for all children with disability, including children with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
The Education Adjustment Program (EAP) is a process by which the education department classifies children with a disability. In order to secure funding, children must fall under the 6 categories listed below:
· Autism Spectrum Disorder
· Hearing Impairment
· Intellectual Disability
· Physical Impairment
· Speech-Language Impairment
· Vision Impairment.
Unfortunately children with FAS-D often fall just outside these categories. Although they frequently present with intellectual and speech language impairments, it is often not to the degree that is required to fall under the categories listed above. Unfortunately, the disability often manifests quite significantly in other areas such as poor judgement, labile mood, aggression, poor social skills, hyperactivity, impulsivity and executive functioning challenges. If you watch the 4 corners special on FAS-D you will see the severity of this disorder. It certainly is as debilitating as the other disabilities listed under the EAP.
It has been empirically shown that early intervention is the best predictor of future success for children with FAS-D. My aim for these kids is to be a contributing member of the community. We hope that you will advocate that FAS-D should be listed as an EAP classification.
In 1990 Australia ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This means that the Australian Government has a duty to ensure that all children in Australia enjoy the rights set out in the treaty. Article 23 of the treaty states that the child has the right to special education and care if they have a disability. It was very confronting to hear Dr Doug Shelton, Paediatrician and FAS-D specialist state that Australia is 20 years behind Canada and the United States in terms of diagnosis and treatment of children with FAS-D. We have a duty of care to protect these very vulnerable children.
Why is this important?
There is no cure for FASDs, but research shows that early intervention treatment services can improve a child's development. A seminal study by O’Connor et al (2006) found that protective factors that can help children with FAS-D reach their full potential include: a loving and nurturing environment, early diagnosis and involvement in special education and the provision of social services. We are finding it near impossible to get government help and support for social services and education.I believe it is important that schools get the appropriate funding and resources to support children with FAS-D.
I would urge you to watch the 4 corners special on FAS-D, which can be accessed by the following link: http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2015/11/02/4341366.htm