For those of you who will be interviewed by press and/or reporters, here are some Interview Boundaries and Ideas to Help You Discuss FAS/E by Teresa Kellerman (©1999 FAS Community Resource Center) .
* Use "people first" language. Put the person first and the disability second. Please do not refer to our children as FAS kids. They are CHILDREN with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or people with alcohol related neurological disorderss. We are parents who cope with FAS/ARND.
* Avoid judgment. Try not to lay blame on the birth mother. Instead of saying "child abuse in the womb," say "exposure to alcohol before birth." If we are going to blame anyone, we can blame the alcohol industry (which has a great deal of control over congress and the television industry).
* Be positive. People are more likely to listen to and remember a message that is phrased with positive language rather than negative language, even if the negative message is an important one, like "Don't Drink During Pregnancy." Instead, try such positives messages as "It is best for the baby if mom stays alcohol free."
* Know your facts. If you are going to make statements about how prevalent FAS is, have your fact sheet nearby with sources to back up what you say. A good single source of stats and facts can be found in the FAS QUIZ which has the sources right there on the answer page. This can be handed to the reporter after the interview. (prints out two pages when margins are set to 3/4") http://www.come-over.to/multiplechoice/fasquizprintout.htm
* FAS is the leading known cause of mental retardation in western civilization (US and Canada, Europe, Australia). Incidence is 1/500 according to the World Health Organization. But FAS is NOT the leading cause of MR in the world. That would probably be malnutrition and dehydration in third world countries. Prenatal alcohol exposure is *probably* the leading cause of neurological disorders (FAS and FAE), seriously affecting 1 out of 100 people in the U.S. (Streissguth).
* Alcohol causes more damage to the brain of the developing baby than any other substance, including heroin, marijuana, and cocaine. (Institute of Medicine 1996 Report to Congress)
* Pass out posters. Use the mini-poster designed just for FAS Awareness Day. The "Be Good To Me" flyer has a nice positive message on it. You can add your own name and number as a contact person. (one inch margins) http://www.come-over.to/FAS/fasdayposter.htm Full size posters can be ordered from the FAS Store at http://www.come-over.to/FAS/store/
* Wear your FAS KNOT. It will only take a minute to make. Be sure to print out the paragraphs that explain the story behind it. http://www.come-over.to/FASWORLD/fasknot.htm
* Plan ahead. Be prepared to hold an informational presentation or support group gathering for those who wish to learn more or who would like to connect with others involved with caring for individuals with FAS/FAE. It would be nice to already have a free library room reserved for this purpose and hand the info to the reporter. Helping isolated parents connect with other isolated parents will make a HUGE difference for kids in your community, and will give substance to group efforts to change policies and laws locally.
* Use just a few handouts. Too much paper will just be thrown away and not read. Use the interesting flyers with the pictures. Several to choose from here: http://www.come-over.to/FAS/brochures/
* Direct them to the Internet - that's where all the action is. Be sure to tell them about FASLINK and other Internet support groups http://come-over.to/FAS/fasonline.htm and give them the websites for FADU http://depts.washington.edu/fadu/ and FASWORLD http://www.fasworld.com. In Canada, refer them to Bruce's site http://www.acbr.com/fas/. In the US, refer them to the FAS Community Resource Center http:/www.come-over.to/FASCRC
* Be yourself. Even if you donít have a PhD or an MA, you are an expert when it comes to FAS. If you know your subject, then that is all the confidence you need. If you donít know enough about it to feel comfortable, then turn the interview over to someone else.