NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – September is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder awareness month. FASD is a developmental disorder that can happen when a fetus is exposed to alcohol in the womb.

It’s estimated one in 20 first graders has the FASD disability, that’s more than autism, and now a Northampton woman is trying to raise awareness through a display at the Forbes Library.

There you’ll see fact sheets and books on the disability near the circulation desk. Jessica Tanner and local artist Angela Zammarelli came up with the idea. Their children are adopted, and getting a diagnosis for FASD was not that simple. Eventually, she got answers at a diagnosis center in Newton, but many are not as lucky.

FASDs can impact physical, mental, behavioral, or cognitive development, as well as growth deficiencies, central nervous system disabilities, and, only about 10% of people diagnosed with specific facial characteristics. 

Tanner says 99 percent of people living with FASD are not diagnosed. “I wanted to focus on the people who have FASD because they have not been focused on. They’re not getting the services. There are not enough diagnostic centers. That other 99 percent needs to be diagnosed so they can get the help they need” says Tanner.

Human service organizations, health care professionals, educators, and the public are working together to support the FASD community by increasing awareness, becoming educated, and supporting wide efforts to bring FASD informed services, interventions and support to those living with FASD. 

At the display at the Forbes Library, you’ll notice red shoes that are the symbol for FASD, asking you to walk in their shoes. The display will be up through the month of September.