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A man from eastern Manitoba who lives with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) says he wants to speak out more about what FASD is and how to prevent more children from being born with the disorder.

Chris Martin says his mom struggled with alcohol addiction and he, along with all his siblings, were born with FASD. Martin notes, for himself, he struggles with memory and concentrating on something without being easily distracted.

"When I was eight, maybe, my mom sent me away to a foster home. I didn't really like it at first but it was best for her to send me away, to move into a good home," he says. "Growing up with FASD, I struggle with it but I get through it and try to make a life better for me."

Martin notes he struggled in school to understand some things being taught and did feel there was a degree of bullying because of his disorder.

"When I was in school a lot of people said I had a problem with reading or writing. They would make fun of me at school, but I felt bad for myself because I had that," says Martin. "Bullying is another thing for people with FASD, I've seen that a lot. I see a lot of older people who have it and I stick up for them. Oh, ya, we got FASD, what do you got? You're just a regular guy, you shouldn't make fun of people with a disability or handicap. It's not right. You got to stand up for other people."

Martin has been working at two businesses, a bakery, and an aircraft maintenance shop, helping with various tasks.

"At Winnipeg River Aircraft, I cut the grass and I help out the guys with the maintenance of the planes. If the boss asks me to go for a plane ride, I sometimes go with, to pick up something or drop off a plane," notes Martin. "At the bakery, I help with the sweeping and the packing of buns and folding boxes."

He says he feels the people he works with are patient, understanding, and appreciate the work he does.

"Yes [for people to have] a little more patience for people with FASD. [Living with FASD] is like you have a hard drive that's fairly slow on a computer and it takes a very long time to load. You're waiting for hours for this hard drive to fill up and for some reason, you always get this error, it just messes everything up. Now it's a complete loss and I have to start everything over again."

Martin adds he wants women to think about their choice to drink while pregnant and know the consequences of their decisions. He says he wants to continue speaking out and telling people about FASD to help people better understand what it's like to live with the disorder but also to help them understand what happens to children who are born to mothers who drank while pregnant and the consequences of those decisions.

"I wish it would never happen."

According to Healthy Child Manitoba, effects from FASD can be lifelong physical, mental, cognitive, and behavioural disabilities. They add people with FASD are likely to have trouble with memory, understanding cause and effect, getting used to changes in routine, sensory stimulation, learning life skills, and forming and keeping healthy relationships.

Health Child Manitoba says there is no known safe amount of alcohol that can be consumed while pregnant. They add it's best to avoid all alcohol consumption as the more alcohol and the more often a women drinks while pregnant, the great the chance of harming the unborn baby.

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