Embrace, Truth About FASD came out of a passion to help my son, Sam, who was diagnosed with ARND — Alcohol Related Neurological Disorders — a specific diagnosis under the FASD umbrella a few years ago. It took my wife and I fourteen years to find the correct diagnoses for him. FASD is the number one birth defect in the Western Hemisphere. It is a physical disability that is very commonly misunderstood and under diagnosed — which was true for us and every parent I speak with and read about. We had professionals providing treatment after treatment during the fourteen years in the search to find our son help. Not one professional even hinted that we explore if the birth-mom’s drinking had anything to do with his disruptive behaviors.

Sam is smart, athletic, creative, funny, makes friends easily, along with having a number of other great gifts. Sam presents himself very well in public, but he has struggled in school and our home with “unexplained” behaviors. His physical, yet hidden disability, our lack of knowledge related to FASD, professionals we worked with did not know or identify FASD, and Sam’s wonderful giftings, masked the truth about FASD.

As a father and filmmaker, it made sense to not only learn how to help my son in meaningful ways, but it also became clear for the need to produce a documentary to shed light on the such a critical issue (conservatively it is 5% of our population; Autism is under 2%) that is hidden to most — to help others understand and to start a meaningful conversation about FASD.

This is by far the most exciting project I’ve ever been involved with, because it has the potential to be the catalyst for change in the lives of children and adults. FASD is preventable, and if one child is spared from the risk of permanent brain damage due to prenatal alcohol exposure, I rejoice. 

Thanks for taking time to explore the Embraced project,

Joel W. Sheagren

Director | Producer

Click here if you want to learn more about the personal story of Embraced.