Foetal Alcohol Syndrome support group for Derry

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A support group for parents of children with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome will hold its first meeting in Derry in March.

Alison McNamara, the founder of FASD Aware NI, said she decided to bring the support group to Derry after being contacted by a number of concerned parents in the city.

The group’s first meeting will take place on March 3 at the Playtrail.

Alison is mother to two adopted boys who both suffer from Foetal Alcohol Syndrome.

She told the ‘Journal’ she believes it’s vital that parents and children are given more support. “We’re there in a non-judgemental manner to give help and support to foster carers and adoptive parents. Our children can meet up and play together in a safe environment. I really want to let people know that we’re coming to the city and we’d be delighted to meet new families here.”

Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. It is often misdiagnosed and children often only display symptoms when they start to attend school.

Symptoms include children who are born with a small head, a smooth ridge between the upper lip and nose, small and wide-set eyes, a very thin upper lip, or other abnormal facial features. Children with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome may also be below average height and weight and may display hyperactivity.

“Jordan was pre-school age when we realised he couldn’t cope with mainstream education,” said Alison, referring to her youngest son.

“His foster parents had also noticed that his sleep pattern was dreadful but largely Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is a hidden disability and there’s so little awareness around it. That’s something we want to change.”

Alison said she had also been contacted by social workers in the North West who had heard about the support group.

“There are children everywhere - including Derry - dealing with the effects of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome every day,” said Alison.

“It’s time to recognise that and see how we can help make life easier for them and those who look after them.”

FASD Aware NI can be contacted through Facebook or alternatively by emailing alliemc49@hotmail.com