My name is Micheal Oswald. I live with the effects of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or FASD.
On September 9 of this year, I made sure to wear red to bring awareness to Red Shoe Day – the one and what seems to be the only day where FASD is recognized, but I saw no mention of this day on social media or news broadcasting.
I am saddened that this disability seems to be shunned because of a stigma.
What is it that makes the general public so uncomfortable about my condition?
I see an overwhelming amount of alcohol ads on socials, TV, magazines and in movies.
What I do not see is folks discussing the struggle of alcoholism and little about how alcohol affects those who did not ask to be born different – no safe time, no safe amount.
I am grateful for everyone who supports me and I am grateful for all that other advocates do to bring awareness to this difficult topic. Not everyone is so lucky.
My disability is much like any other. I was affected whilst in the womb and was born with several differences.
I do not carry the obvious signs of being different like say Down Syndrome or Cornelia De Lange Syndrome (CdLS) although in some cases physical differences are noticeable. Mostly mine is called an invisible disability. We are often misunderstood, have difficulty in school, challenges with relationships, experience negative encounters with the justice system or suffer with mental health issues.
All I am asking is this...
How can we bring more attention and awareness to this condition that has too often been brushed under the rug? Can we reduce the stigma and maybe even see more people wearing red or red shoes in support of those who live with something they didn’t ask for?