Sask. man advocates for those living with FASD

What began as a journey of healing for Niall Schofield has turned into an advocacy mission to help people understand living with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

“It’s really when I started embracing that I have FASD that I actually started to propel in success,” he said.

Schofield is among the four per cent of the Canadian population who lives with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Shana Mohr, the training manager for Saskatchewan’s Fetal Spectrum Disorder Network, said the rate of FASD is higher than the combined rates of autism, Down syndrome, Tourette syndrome and cerebral palsy.

“That being said, FASD is probably one of the most significantly under funded disabilities in Canada.”

Schofield believes more can be done to help better educate people about FASD.

“People’s perceptions of you change immediately when they find out you are affected by FASD. The stigma is very, very strong and unfortunately it takes lives.”

This reality is the inspiration behind the network’s newest campaign.

“When someone says ‘oh I have FASD’ often people’s first thought is to go to something negative,” said Mohr.

“They are not recognizing all their strengths and all the positive qualities that they bring to the world.”

Schofield was featured in the advertisement showcasing his clothing line Douglas Bird.

“I took the trauma and all the things I have overcome and then I put the message into my clothing.”

Schofield is also the president of the Diamond BMX club in Warman and there are plans to create a state of the art indoor BMX facility in Saskatoon.

He started riding when he was seven, he said.

“My older brother raced and so did all his friends and the track was local. I just loved it.”

Schofield hopes his story will inspire others living with FASD.

“My last word would be to not give up hope and to always focus on your dreams.”