There’s a lot to know about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, or FASD. To help you understand better, we’ve pulled together some of the most frequently asked questions about FASD.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, or FASD is an umbrella term used to refer to a set of birth defects caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. They symptoms can be physical, mental or both and are often permanent and difficult to treat. FASD is often referred to as an ‘invisible disability’ meaning that most people have no outward signs of the challenges they face.
The term Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) was first coined in 1973 by Jones and Smith who described malformations and developmental issues affecting children who had parental exposure to alcohol. Many other terms have subsequently been used to describe the range of birth defects including Fetal Alcohol Effect (FAE); Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND) and others. FASD encompasses these terms and all others used to describe the effects of alcohol while pregnant.
By far the most damaging aspect of FASD is its impact on the brain: those living with FASD may experience difficulty with abstract concepts, good judgment, behaviour management, attention and learning. Their difficulty controlling impulses may develop into trouble with the law, dropping out of school, unemployment, substance use and homelessness.
Over their lifetime, individuals affected by FASD may be challenged by secondary disabilities stemming from their alcohol related brain injuries. Secondary issues can include trouble with the law, with housing, with employment, with mental health issues and sexual inappropriateness. The range of primary and secondary disabilities associated with FASD has obvious and profound implications for the planning and delivery of health and human services across the lifespan.
There is no cure for FASD.
We do not know for certain, however a new 2018 study suggests that rates may be more widespread than previously thought. Researchers say that up to 3% – or about one million people could be affected. FASD is preventable. Drinking alcohol is the only cause.
No amount of alcohol has been proven safe to drink while pregnant. Support a Dry 9 – doing a Dry9 means you make the decision to not drink any alcohol throughout your pregnancy.
If you think your child has FASD, it is important to talk to us or to your family doctor. We will always treat you with respect and dignity, because of most importance is to discover what type of help your child needs to be successful and happy.
Anyone may have FASD if they have been prenatally exposed to alcohol. Among other things, you may have problems with learning, remembering things, communicating and/or controlling behaviour. Contact us and we will work with you on next steps to best support you.
The possible damage to your unborn baby will depend on many things. They include how much and how often you drank and how far along you were in your pregnancy. We are here to help you – contact us today.
Anyone can make a confidential referral by contacting us.
Studies have shown that a diagnosis of prenatal alcohol damage as soon as possible is key to preventing problems in adulthood. It is important to understand that there are brain differences that must be supported, rather than problem behaviours that must be eliminated. This is true for all individuals exposed prenatally to alcohol regardless of their age. Lack of understanding and inaccurate interpretation of problem behaviours lead to poor outcomes. Diagnosis is essential in preventing this. When behaviours are understood, the interventions are supportive and frustrations are reduced. Individuals affected by FASD can live happy, fulfilling lives when there is a clear understanding of their abilities and strengths.
We’re always here to help – contact us if your question is not listed and we’ll get you the information that you need.