When disability and abuse intersect, we take action.

International FASD Awareness Day
Tributes to "Nine Zero Heroes"

September 9, 2011

Today, 9/9/11, is International FASD Awareness Day, a day set aside (beginning on 9/9/99) by advocates to focus attention on the #1 preventable cause of developmental and intellectual disabilities – maternal drinking during pregnancy resulting in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

Perhaps the purest definition of a victim is someone who has brain damage caused by another person before they see the light of their first day. This day is dedicated to the thousands of these individuals who must negotiate a world that often does not recognize the origin of their disability and has few answers or resources for them when they do.

The Arc of Riverside County wants to take this moment to let our followers and schools know that we are still committed to FASD prevention and the FASTRAC peer-training program in high schools, even though we are between grants. Our NineZero initiative has a life of its own and with limited resources we continue to have an impact and have helped spread the Nine Months, Zero Alcohol message around the world.

We have several NineZero Heroes associated with our agency.

Ricky Nelson

First, there is Ricky Nelson, a self-advocate who speaks to young people and anyone else about the dangers of drinking during pregnancy. When he talks, people listen. His mom, Eva Carner, our longtime FASD Coordinator, took him in at age 3 and their story is on our website as it appeared in Exceptional Parent magazine several years ago. She continues to dedicate her professional life to all aspects of this issue.

William Edwards

Another NineZero Hero who we selfishly claim as our own, is Attorney William Edwards. Space does not permit us to explain adequately his emerging importance in the criminal justice area of this issue. He is a Deputy Public Defender for Los Angeles County and has begun to look for and find people in the criminal justice system primarily because of FASD. The professional resources he has marshaled to help defend these individuals reads like a Who’s Who in the field of FASD and includes Drs. Ann Streissguth and Ken Lyons Jones. We are proud to have William “Billy” Edwards back on our Board of Directors.

As he has done on behalf of defendants with developmental disabilities in the criminal justice system over the last 15 years, he does now for FASD defense. He is guest speaking and coordinating conferences across the country.

He is the guest editor of a special two-volume edition of the Journal of Psychiatry and Law. The second volume went to press last week. This double issue journal brought together over 40 leading experts in the FASD field to address criminal justice. Attorney Edwards worked with the Editor-in-Chief, Harvard Professor Eric Drogin, on this groundbreaking effort. Although the second volume didn’t make it out by this day of significance (we were hoping), we published the Table of Contents in a previous post to whet your appetite.

At 9:09 a.m. today, we will pause to remember those affected by FASD, the NineZero Heroes everywhere, and address the sobering reality that there is much more to be done.

Jim Stream
The Arc of Riverside County



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Los Angeles, CA 90025
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