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February/March 2002Vol. 3, No. 2Series Teaches About Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

A creative series of books, videotapes, workbooks, and CDs are available in the State of Washington to educate parents, schools, and other social service agencies about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The award-winning series, "Journey Through the Healing Circle," uses raccoons, a fox, a bear, and a puffin to convey important information about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and related conditions by using Native American story-telling techniques. Each character portrays various challenges of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and its related conditions at different stages of life.

Through a partnership of Washington State agencies, health care experts, and traditional Northwest tribal storytellers, the series provides stories, health tips, and knowledge to parents and foster parents about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and how it affects their children. The series helps families find productive ways of working with the special needs of their children.

Produced by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), the series was written by Dr. Robin LaDue and Carolyn Hartness, both Native American professionals in the fetal alcohol services field; illustrated by Raoul Imbert; and narrated by Floyd Red Crow Westerman, who starred in the film "Dances With Wolves."

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the only birth defect that can be completely prevented. Children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can exhibit behavior challenges such as inconsistency in understanding instructions, inability to judge the danger of a situation, and are easily frustrated when trying to learn new things—their world can be complex and confusing. Little interest in eating and difficulty in falling asleep can also occur.

Sharon Newcomer, project manager for the series, stated in a press release that DSHS wanted to help parents and foster parents see their Fetal Alcohol Syndrome child through understanding, patient eyes. Newcomer also stated DSHS wants to reassure those who are raising children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or related conditions that they are good parents and have much to be proud of in how they care for their children with special needs.

Copies of the videotapes, books, and CDs are available across the State of Washington from local libraries and the Foster Parent Training Institute (800-662-9111 or 206-725-9696). Books and videos can be downloaded from the DSHS website at

Related Item

For more resources about birth defects and developmental disabilities, see "New CDC Center Brings National Attention to Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities" in the November/December 2001 issue of the Children's Bureau Express.