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
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.
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.
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.
The Arc of Riverside County