Lyndale resident launches nonprofit devoted to fetal alcohol syndrome

Lyndale resident Charles Haire had a difficult time finding a clinic able to diagnose him with fetal alcohol syndrome. So he’s going to open one himself. Haire is in the process of launching a new nonprofit called “FASD Speaks” (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder), with plans for a diagnostic clinic and classes on behavior, job skills and art therapy.

“This is created out of my own need to get support and services,” he said.

After contacting organizations around the country, Haire found that most FASD services are geared toward children, rather than adults. But he said adults with the disorder can fall into addiction, homelessness or incarceration, and they are often misdiagnosed.

Haire said he was personally misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Bipolar Disorder, which can cause similar behaviors but require different medications. Haire only discovered he was at risk for fetal alcohol syndrome when he was looking for his biological father — he came across paperwork mentioning that his mother had been an alcoholic.

Haire said people with FASD have difficulty with the brain’s executive functioning.

“For me, being able to get this far means there are things people with FASD can do,” he said. “But they do need support.”

Haire is also interested in legislative advocacy related to FASD. He said bars are not legally allowed to refuse serving alcohol to a pregnant woman.

“You can’t drink while pregnant, and that should be a given, but it’s not,” he said.

Haire is looking for volunteers and funding to help the nonprofit. He’s planning a fundraiser April 4 at the Minneapolis Urban League.

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