FASD REAL Champions Network


FASD REAL Champions Network

​​FASD Regional Education and Awareness Liaisons (REAL) Champions Network

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) established the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Regional Education and Awareness Liaisons (REAL) Champions Network in 2016. The goals of the FASD champions network are to meet the identified needs to improve pediatricians' capacity for early identification of at risk children and to address the role of stigma and bias in addressing prenatal alcohol exposure with families and caregivers. The network consists of 10 FASD champions – one for each of the AAP districts – appointed by the AAP Board of Directors. The FASD REAL champions are experts in the identification of and care for children with a FASD and available to facilitate educational, outreach, and practice change activities within their respective regions. A brief overview of the FASD champions network program activities is included below.​

FASD Training
The FASD REAL champions are available to provide training to pediatricians within their AAP district. Champions are prepared to lead trainings and facilitate webinars and Grand Rounds presentations using the training modules developed under the auspices of the Improving FASDs Prevention and Practice through National Partnerships collaborative and listed below.

  1. "FASDs Screening, Assessment and Diagnosis"
    This session provides an overview of the conditions that fall under the umbrella of FASDs, the signs that may indicate prenatal alcohol exposure, and the diagnostic approaches for FASD. Participants will be oriented the areas of the brain affected by prenatal alcohol exposure, approaches to communicating with families about a FASDs diagnosis, and indications for referral. The session will reinforce the benefits of a diagnosis and demonstrate how to address issues around stigma.

  2. "Neurobehavioral Disorder-Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (ND-PAE)"
    This session focuses on the factors in a patient's medical history and clinical presentation through the developmental stages that may indicate the presence of ND-PAE. The session covers the three domains in which children struggle with behavior and developmental tasks, the definition of ND-PAE from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition (DSM-5), and strategies for managing care.

  3. ​"Lifelong Care for Children/Families Living with FASDs"
    This session provides an overview of the tools primary care clinicians need to treat children with FASDs across the lifespan. The session covers identifying and managing neurobehavioral and medical concerns at different developmental stages; medical, therapeutic, and pharmaceutical considerations; evidence-based interventions that are applicable to community-based primary care pediatricians; and approaches to building parent knowledge and working with the school system on individualized education programs (IEPs) and 504 Plans.

Education, Awareness, and Technical Assistance
Champions are charged with raising awareness within their respective districts about the FASD REAL Champions Network and the Academy's resources on FASDs. To this aim, champions are available to respond to questions from chapter and district membership, local partners, and external groups. Champions can speak to a variety of FASD topics on monthly calls, at annual meetings, and at conferences, and assist with disseminating educational materials through regional, chapter and other local communication channels, including contributing articles for newsletters and other publications.

FASDs Peer Coaching Program
The FASD peer coaching program was developed to support pediatricians in improving their skills at recognizing the clinical indications associated with prenatal alcohol exposure and their willingness to diagnose FASDs and/or refer for further assessment. Pediatricians interested in the program will receive coaching from their district representative on the AAP FASD REAL Champions Network. The FASDs peer coaching program is designed to be flexible to accommodate the needs, time, and capacity demands of coaches (FASD champions) and coachees, and to meet the following objectives:

  • Foster relationships between pediatricians in AAP districts who are interested in building their capacity to recognize and care for children and families affected by prenatal alcohol exposure

  • Build confidence of pediatricians to recognize the lifelong effects of prenatal alcohol exposure

  • Empower pediatricians to coordinate care for children who may have one of the FASDs

Pediatrician participating in the peer coaching program will work with their coach to establish an operating agreement ("Rules of Engagement"), create an action plan, and engage in mutually agreed upon activities to improve clinical practice around FASDs.

For more information on the FASD champions network or to schedule a training session at your site, contact Josh Benke, Program Manager, FASDs, at jbenke@aap.org or 630-626-6081.

The AAP is working on the FASDs REAL program in partnership with the Practice and Implementation Centers at the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Wisconsin. These centers are funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, funding for the AAP program is part of a cooperative agreement with the CDC.

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