Re: “Psychologist: School shooter suffered fetal alcohol damage” [Sept. 12, Nation]:

As parents of a 32-year-old woman with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), we want the community to know that September was FASD Awareness Month. FASD is a range of developmental disabilities and birth defects that can occur in individuals prenatally exposed to alcohol. It is a preventable birth defect that may be more prevalent in the population than autism, affecting up to 1 in 20 individuals.

People with FASD can have a multifaceted set of disabilities, as well as strengths. Research shows that persons with a brain-based disability, such as FASD, are more vulnerable to negative environmental influences, which can lead to failed social outcomes. With early diagnosis, FASD-informed care and support, these individuals can and do lead productive lives. Unfortunately, such supports are not widely available, and far too few diagnostic and treatment services currently exist.

FASD is currently in the news, as convicted Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz’s sentencing hinges on his FASD diagnosis. It’s important to remember that each individual with FASD is unique, and Cruz does not represent the FASD community, which is filled with many successful, inspirational people who can have a positive impact on our society when they are supported and understood.

Ming Chen, Seattle