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FAS Book Review

The Challenge of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Overcoming Secondary Disabilities

Edited by Ann Streissguth and Jonathan Kanter

Univ of Washington Press


ISBN 0-295-97650-0

In the fall of 1997 there was a conference on FAS and Secondary Disabilities at the University of Washington. Ann Streissguth and a veritable brigade of collaborators pulled together group of speakers to address not only the issues of secondary disabilities (the culmnation of her CDC funded grant on secondary disabilities and FAS) but the full spectrum of context for FAS -- social, economic, judicial and personal.

This book captures the elements of the conference by presenting a range of voices and issues that help frame FAS in its very complex context. Each of the thirty seven authors (for 22 articles) brings their particular expertise to bear along with their unique perspective. This is a very important gift in that it does not oversimplify the issues while at the same time providing the proverbial "view from 10,000 feet."

There are research oriented articles such as offerings on "Neurobehavioral and Neuroanatomica Effects of Heavy Prenatal Exposure to Alcohol" from Mattson and Riley; "Children of Alcoholic Mothers: Results from Goteborg, Sweden" from Aronson, Streisguth, Barr, Kogan and Booksteins "Primary and Secondary Disabilites in Fetal Alchol Syndrome" and A Study of Stimulant Medication in Children with FAS" by Snyder, Nanson, Snyder and Block to name a few.

For those wanting more information on implementation of programs, policies and processes, there are also quite a few nuggets including: "Development of the FAS Diagnositc and Prevention Network in Washington State," from Clarren and Astley, "A Demonstration Classroom for Young Children with FAS" from Tanner-Halverson, and "Presenting the FAS Client in a Criminal Case" from Dagher-Margosian. The policy side is well represented on issues from disability benefits, legal, parent advocacy and public health.

And finally, for the binding element, there is the heart and soul which is woven through both the scholarly and community focused offerings, but best show in the introduction by the late Michael Dorris, a parent and writer. Mr. Dorris offered us the "why:" why research, why try, why advocate, why try and untangle and understand this web we call FAS. His words are all the more moving in the terrible void left by his death. But his words still call us to action.

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