Guidelines for Writing & Talking about FASD

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The purpose of this document is to assist those writing and talking about FASD and the issues related to the disability to use the same statistics, framing of topics, and language. The intended outcome, over time, will be an improved understanding by the reader/listener with consistent and respectful FASD messaging.

This is a living document and areas will be updated as it is informed by emerging research.

In order to promote a common language about FASD and to minimize misinterpretation of key issues, we have drafted a suggested definition of FASD. Standard definitions are needed to ensure consistency in administrative, clinical, and research operations. Therefore, we recommend that this definition be used by governments and policy makers across Canada to promote standardized and consistent language when discussing FASD.

Other Key Communication Notes:

 Dignity promotion among individuals with FASD and their families:

o This theme should be emphasized in any awareness or prevention programs and an attempt not to make guilt-ridden programs (Manitoba FASD Coalition, 2016)
o When using images, refrain from using photos of fetuses, pregnant bellies without heads and naked women (Canada FASD Research Network, 2018)
o Refrain from stigma-inducing language and use ‘dignity-promoting’ words and phrases. Use language guides resources as a reference (Manitoba FASD Coalition, 2016)

 Becoming FASD-Informed:

o Practice FASD-informed approaches comprised of awareness, strength-based and person-centred (Rutman, 2016)
o Use accurate and empirically proven facts.
o Refrain from using the statement that FASD is “100% preventable” as this statement greatly oversimplifies the issue.
o In Canada, the terminology ‘Indigenous’ mirrors constitutional language (Retzlaff, 2005) and includes: First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples; When referring to

specific groups or cultures, ensure to use the appropriate distinction

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