#080 Dr Raja Mukherjee: What Happens When We Never Give Up on FASD

fasd success show Sep 12, 2021

Do you often feel alone as a caregiver? Like you are hitting a brick wall or blowing into the wind when trying to get professionals on board?  In this episode, you will hear that sometimes professionals experience the same. The last time I spoke to today’s guest, Dr. Raja Mukherjee, was five years ago. There was next to nothing for FASD in the United Kingdom. Today I check in to find out where they are now. 

Dr. Mukherjee started the first NHS-based specialist Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders behavioural clinic and since then has seen hundreds of cases for a specialist second opinion. 

He completed his Ph.D. in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in 2014. He has also acted as an invited advisor to the BMA board of science, The Department of Health, and the World Health Organisation about FASD. Dr. Mukherjee also gave evidence to the first All Party Parliamentary Group on FASD at the House of Commons. 
The journey began at a time where, if I am honest, I should not have been in the situation to be the expert. In fact, at that time I was still learning. Now I feel I have enough knowledge and experience to call myself an expert. Back then, it was a very steep learning curve. I was fortunate to have good support from Baroness Hollins and Professor Turk, as well as internationally recognized FASD experts, such as Professor Ed Riley to turn to for help.

In this episode, we talk about Raja’s road to FASD awareness, how he became so passionate about specializing in it, his mentors and how it felt in those early days, as well as: 

  • The time he was plastered on the front page of the daily mail 
  • Why he never gave up, his philosophy on helping people and his vision for the future 
  • Advice for caregivers on how to get buy-in or bridge the gap with professionals 
The reality is, we should be willing to listen (to caregivers). We are different. I know the science and what’s going on behind it, but I cannot tell you what the lived experience is. People value not having to explain and feel heard.

We get the five “Ws” about his new book: Prevention, Recognition and Management of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, why it was written, when it was published, who the intended audience is, what is included, and where you can get a copy.  

Despite all his accomplishments, Raja remains humble. He is quick to point to those who supported him and those who are working alongside him now. Like caregivers need to build a team around them for success, professionals need to do the same. He is an inspiration for caregivers on not giving up – he could have many times, like caregivers, but he kept going. I think you will find he balances his professional knowledge with compassion and understanding for the experiences of caregivers and individuals with FASD.  

Show Notes: 

Book: Prevention, Recognition and Management of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders 

Article: A reflection on 15 years working with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in the UK 

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