Sister Suzette Mary Fisher, a member of Toledo’s Sisters of Notre Dame, has just been elected as chair of National
Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Affiliate Network. In addition to her duties with this organization, Fisher also leads Double Arc, a Toledo-area organization whose mission is to provide support, education and social services to families impacted by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorders (FASDs).
Fisher was inspired to continue her FASD work after hearing a speech by FASD expert Ken Jones in 1993, and has been a passionate advocate for those impacted by the condition ever since. A member of her order since 1963, Fisher felt called to a religious life at an early age.
“From the time I was in 2nd grade, I had a sense that was what I was
supposed to do, that God was calling me. I left home at 14 and became an aspirant at Notre Dame Academy,” Fisher said. The Fremont native took formal vows in 1969, and has been active with Double Arc since its inception.
“We started in 1992, primarily looking at school systems with children and behaviors we didn’t know what to do with. We looked for individuals to help us find experts who could tell us what was going on with these children and what we could do for them” she explained.
Studying the issues
“We started studying the issue as much as possible and began presenting information about it to educators, social service providers and began doing workshops about FAS and FAS disorders” she added.
Fisher describes FASD as primarily involving behavioral problems.
“Children with FASD need constant supervision. They’re pretty irritable. They don’t connect cause and effect. They do not understand consequences. They are more difficult to manage in public. Not easy to manage at home, either,” she said. “They do not understand stranger danger. They tend to act chronologically younger than their age.
Fisher advises parents whose children may interact with those with FASDs to teach patience.
“I would hope that a parent would encourage them to understand their classmate who may have FAS may have some difficulty in the classroom, but that they should be supportive of the other child, befriend them and try to be a good example for the child with FASD. They shouldn’t tease or bully them,” she said. “Children with FASD sometimes have meltdowns. When other kids don’t understand, they may push buttons and try to get that reaction” Fisher added.
Fisher cautions pregnant women that there is no safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy.
For more information about FASD, call Double Arc at (419) 479-3060 (ex 1 or 2) or visit https://www.doublearc.org.