What we Do

FARR understands the far-reaching implications of FASD and the impact on people and communities affected by it. We strive to have a long-term sustainable impact by:

  • Raising Social Awareness
  • Conducting world class Medical and Psychosocial Research related to FASD
  • Conducting Prevention and Intervention Programmes
  • Offering Training and Education Programmes
  • Offering Diagnostic and Support Services

FARR works in communities on invitation only.  Once invited, we follow an approach that conforms to international standards of research as shown in the diagram attached below:

International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Day

International FASD Day is commemorated on 9 September and is a day devoted to creating awareness about FASD and spreading the FASD Prevention Message: No amount of alcohol is safe any time during pregnancy.

This is a mayor event on FARR’s calendar, and you will find FARR Head Office Staff and Project Teams actively involved in various awareness campaigns during the month of September.

The FASD-knot is the international symbol reminding us about the risk of prenatal alcohol exposure. We encourage everyone to wear a FASD-knot as a token of support to the prevention of FASD, especially on or around the 9th of September.

What is the FASD knot?

The knot consists of a white rope tied in a specific way, known as the reef knot or the fisherman’s knot. The knot is worn on your chest to raise awareness about FASD.

The knot symbolises the following:

  • The rope symbolises the umbilical cord whereby the unborn baby (fetus) is supposed to receive nutritious food and not alcohol;
  • The worn ends of the rope is a reminder of the damage that prenatal alcohol use can cause to the central nervous system (brain) and other organs of the unborn baby;
  • The knot is so strong that it will not break if traction is put on it, it will only pull tighter. This symbolizes the strong support that we are supposed to give pregnant women to abstain from alcohol use;
  • The circle inside the knot symbolises the womb (uterus) of the pregnant women which should provide a safe environment for the unborn baby free of alcohol.

What is the FASD Button Badge?

The FASD Button Badge is a new design and initiative by FARR. The badge is 55mm in diameter and can be temporarily fastened to the surface of a garment using a safety pin attached to the back of the badge. It is durable and delivers a high impact message and imagery. The FASD Button Badge was specifically designed for International FASD Day and contains a digital representation of the FASD Knot and the prevention message: No alcohol is safe during pregnancy.

To order FASD-knots or Button Badges contact: info@farrsa.org.za or 021 686 2646.

Our Projects usually offer the following programmes:

FARR is committed to increasing awareness amongst all South Africans regarding the importance of not consuming any amount of alcohol during pregnancy to ensure FASD prevention in our country.

The cost of the management and treatment of any birth defect is more than the cost to prevent it, in other words: Prevention is more cost effective than management and treatment.  The usual prevalence rate of serious birth defects in a community is between 1-3%. This is defined as a defect, abnormality or disability that causes major hindrance to the full capacity development of a person. FASD is thought to affect at least 7 million South-Africans. Unfortunately, these statistics do not demonstrate the full effect of alcohol exposure during pregnancy as the broader effects of FASD such as Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorders (ARND’s) and Alcohol Related Birth Defects (ARBD’s), are generally difficult to diagnose.

It is estimated that FASD costs the USA more than $6 billion (approximately R42 billion) annually. In South Africa, the financial burden of FASD will fall on the Government and it’s tax payers.  The cost of FASD in South Africa has not yet been fully assessed to date.  The full impact of FASD is in fact immeasurable until the full extent of the far reaching implications for the individual, the family and community can be measured.  The diagnostic costs and the management of the primary disabilities are immense. If undetected and untreated many individuals with FASD present with secondary disabilities such as mental- and other health problems, substance and other forms of abuse, consequences of risky behavior and conflict with the law.  In light of this, it is apparent that all efforts should be put in place to raise awareness about the harmful effects of alcohol exposure during pregnancy and the importance to prevent children from being born with FASD.

Research Unit

FARR is a research-based organisation and the research that FARR conducts is an integral part of FARR’s work.

The Research Unit consist of Mandi Broodryk (Research Coordinator) and Lebo Khusu (Data Clerk).

Some of the key functions of the Research Unit include:

  • The management of research ethical approval for all research projects
  • The coordination of FARR’s research projects
  • Data management of all data collected at project site
  • Facilitating the writing of academic papers to be published in peer-reviewed journals

To date, FARR has completed 19 FASD Prevalence Studies across South Africa and has published more than 65 scientific articles in respected journals such as: Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental
Research (ACER), the WHO bulletin, the American Journal of Public Health, and the South African Medical Journal.

All of FARR’s publications are listed in the document linked below.

FARR Journal Publications – September 2023
From Evidence to Awareness – Poster Presentation
 What Happened to Them – Poster Presentation
Task Team Conference – Poster Training

 PhD Dissertation, Dr L Olivier, CEO of FARR: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in South Africa – A 20 year journey

A serious and growing need for community members, parents, caregivers and professionals (i.e. health care workers, social workers and educators) to be better informed about the risks of prenatal alcohol exposure and the prevention of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), was the main driving force behind the establishment of a dedicated Training Academy at FARR in 2008.

The aim of the Training Academy is:

To coordinate and facilitate awareness programmes, workshops and courses towards educating, developing capacity and strengthening social cohesion, specifically related to the prevention and management of FASD.

The specific objectives of the Training Academy are:

  • To raise awareness on substance abuse and its effects;
  • To raise awareness about FASD;
  • To build capacity of health care providers, educators, social workers, undergraduate students and other relevant stakeholders, to identify women at risk and offer suitable interventions to prevent alcohol use during pregnancy, undertake appropriate referrals and assign appropriate support services.
  • To build capacity pertaining to prevention, early identification and comprehensive management of individuals affected by FASD.

Facilitators & Course Administration:

Currently the Training Academy has three full time staff members and two part-time facilitators who work across South Africa to present the different training initiatives. FARR is particularly fortunate to have qualified and experienced professionals e.g. nurses, social workers, psychometrists and psychologists who contribute to the inclusion of evidence-based course content and who are co-opted to facilitate profession-specific training interventions. All initiatives apply various techniques to enhance an interactive learning experience for participants. Course manuals and toolkits (where applicable) are provided and certificates are issued for attendees who meet the required criteria.

Education and Training Programmes offered for:

1. Community members, Blue collar workers, Farm and General workers:

  • FAStrap© Course

Best suited for those who have ± 5 years of schooling, but facilitation can be adjusted for persons who have more/less schooling.

This is a 4-day life skills course consisting of 10 modules, including topics such as:  self-image, planning for a child, responsible parenting, discipline, alcohol and substance abuse, etc.  Sessions presented are interactive and builds on attendees’ previous experiences, while also using a variety of games, storytelling, roleplays and discussions to enhance the learning experience. Attendees are required to share the information received during the workshop with peers and family, and upon proof thereof (register with 20 names signed), are issued with a Certificate of Attendance.

  • Think Twice Workshops

Suitable for general public, company staff, peer educators.

The workshop increases participants’ understanding of the impact of alcohol (ab)use on the individual, the family and community in terms of the physical effects and the psycho-social impact.  It also provides a brief overview of FASD, with a specific focus on the important role of male partners in the prevention of FASD. Participants are equipped with the ability to recognize if there is a problem with alcohol and substance abuse, while some decision-making skills and resources for assistance of those affected, are also offered.
(The workshop can be customized according to need e.g. duration can be adapted between 2 – 4 hours).

  • Legacy Dad Course:

Course is presented in partnership with Bright Star Lifestyle and The World Needs A FATHER Aimed at fathers with pre-school children

The course, presented in three sessions over two days, guides fathers to build their legacy through the creation of awareness and enhancement of their skills. In the first session, fathers are guided on what it means to become more intentionally involved with their children. Then, it concentrates on Dad’s relationship with his child and emphasizes two techniques to do this. Lastly, the course provides an enspiring perspective on how fathers can interact within the family and broader community.

  • Do you have 3 minutes© (DYH3M©) Programme

The DYH3M© Programme is an integral part of FARR’s Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) awareness Programmes. The Programme is offered at most Project sites in the form of short (3 min) presentations to individuals and groups (e.g. at Health Care facilities), community members and related health and education professionals.  The need for such a condensed awareness intervention arose from….

2. Courses for Professionals (Educators, Social Workers, Therapists and Health Care Professionals):

  • Early Childhood Development (ECD) Workshop:

A 3-hour workshop for ECD Practitioners providing basic information about FASD and its effects on early childhood development. Three common challenges experienced by those affected, and how it manifests in the ECD classroom, are highlighted. In relation to these challenges, basic techniques and tools are exchanged in view of enhancing the ECD practitioners’ understanding and management of children. A basic toolkit is also provided to all participants.

  • Alcohol Harm Reduction (AHR) Seminar for Professionals:

A 1-day seminar hosted annually at project sites. Delegates include local multi-disciplinary professionals working for government, NGO’s, CBO’s etc. It provides a platform to share important FASD and FARR project information, clarifies various stakeholders’ mandates and interventions, and creates networking opportunities.

  • Course for Foundation Phase Educators, Health Professionals, Social Workers:

A 2-day course presented to various professionals in the health, welfare and educational sectors. The first day contextualizes alcohol and substance (ab)use and its physical and psycho-social effects, it provides an overview of FASD, the epidemiology and how it is diagnosed, as well as develops insight into important human rights and ethical issues. The second day is devoted to profession-related theory and role clarification while discussing the management of those affected at the hand of case studies and group work activities.

CPD Accreditation for professional persons is obtained (where possible) from the Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and the South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP).

The CEO of FARR, Dr Leana Olivier can be requested to do presentations on FARR’s work as well as FASD information sessions (including information on Awareness, Prevention and Intervention studies and Programmes). Dr Olivier has extensive experience in presenting at conferences nationally and internationally, and has been in the front line of FASD prevalence, prevention and intervention studies. Please contact info@farrsa.org.za for more information.

Should you wish to participate in, or find out more about upcoming FARR Training-, Awareness-, Prevention- and Intervention programs, please contact us at info@farrsa.org.za or 021 686 2646

It is of utmost importance that the appropriate scientific diagnostic criteria are followed when diagnosing FASD. Most importantly to prevent the labelling and stigmatization of an individual and his or her family, but also to avoid misdiagnosis as a result of certain ethnic features which are common in a multi-cultural society such as South Africa.

The diagnosis of FASD can only be made by a multi-disciplinary team of trained specialists using the Institute of Medicines Model (IOM).  This would include:

  • A Clinical assessment by a medical specialist, trained in the diagnosis of FASD, making use of scientific testing and assessment tools and methods.
  • A Neurodevelopmental assessment by a trained psychometrist using a battery of measures to assess neuro-developmental functioning.
  • An extensive interview of the mother to understand the type, time and amount of alcohol the mother consumed during the pregnancy.

Functions of our Neuro-Developmental Assessment (NDA) Unit:
The function of the Psychometrists in the NDA Unit is to perform Neurodevelopmental Assessments on children or babies referred by our Medical Specialist, during FARR’s prevalence studies and 9-Month Baby Clinics under the supervision of a Psychologist. Each assessment is followed by a comprehensive report, practical recommendations and appropriate referrals where necessary. The Psychometrists also form part of FARR’s multi-disciplinary team of professionals, who collectively discuss each child/baby’s NDA results and clinical presentation with regular case conferences. The results of the Neurodevelopmental Assessments are taken into account when the multi-disciplinary team agrees on a diagnosis for each child/baby. Once a diagnosis is made, the Psychometrists, together with other professionals trained to provide counselling, give feedback to the parents/caregivers of these children/babies. During the feedback session results, practical recommendations and possible referral/support are discussed.

FARR Private Clinic:
As part of our diagnostic and support services, FARR offers private FASD diagnostic services at our Head Office in Bellville, Cape Town. This service is available for both adults and children. An assessment for FASD consists of a medical examination by a Medical Specialist, as well as a Cognitive Assessment administered by a Psychometrist. Extensive collateral information regarding prenatal history, birth, childhood and beyond is gathered to have a holistic view of the individual. This is a paid service and professional tariffs adhering to medical insurance requirements apply upon appointment. For further information about the Private Clinic, or to enquire about an appointment, please contact: info@farrsa.org.za or 021-6862646.

Healthy Mother Healthy Baby© (HMHB©) Programme

As a targeted FASD prevention and programme, the HMHB© Programme aims to support pregnant women to have healthier pregnancies and thus healthier babies. This Programme was developed by FARR in 2008. In collaboration with Health Care facilities in our Project areas, pregnant women below 20 weeks gestation are recruited to take part in the programme, thus adding to the existing antenatal-care programmes. Our clients are offered a series of structured intervention sessions with our experienced Project staff throughout their pregnancy as well as after the birth of the baby. These babies are then clinically examined at around 9 months of age by a Medical Specialist, and where indicated a Developmental Assessment is administered by a registered Psychometrist.

1. Knock-Knock Early Childhood Development Programme:

A community-based programme offered at the homes of clients, focusing on supporting mothers to stimulate the development of their pre-school children through play, reading and storytelling. By doing this the mother-child bond is strengthened, optimum development and school readiness are facilitated. The wellbeing of other individuals in the household, such as the parent/caregiver, the elderly and other household members are also assessed during these home visits. This 8-week programme consists of 7 sessions at home and one group session at the FARR project centre. On completion the mother receives a certificate. The child receives gift such a toy and/or storybook (when donations are available).

2. Learner Support Programme:

This support programme for primary school learners diagnosed with FASD or other learning disabilities, is offered by FARR at the school. The goal of the programme is to promote essential areas of development through play and interactivities games and activities. These foundation skills/areas of development play an important role in and assist children with reading, writing, mathematics etc. The programme is facilitated once a week for a period of 30 weeks (excluding school holidays), involving small groups of learners.

3. Adolescents Support Programme:

A total of 11 group sessions are offered per annum to adolescents within the age group of 12-18 years. The aim is to discuss basic life skills and enhance informed decision making in terms of forming and maintaining healthy relationships, personal hygiene, prevention of substance abuse and teenage pregnancies. Sessions are interactive through topic discussions, watching related movies and engaging in arts and crafts.

4. Senior Citizens Support Programme:

A total of 11 group sessions are offered to community members, older than 50 years. These individuals are often the opinion leaders in the community and/ or primary caregivers of grandchildren. The objective is to develop insight into relationships and their role in the community as caregivers, to create awareness of substance abuse and focus on the improvement of their own physical and emotional wellbeing. The programme consists of discussions, art therapy and other creative activities.