What is FASD?
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects may include physical, mental, behavioral, and/or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications.
The following neurodevelopmental characteristics are commonly associated with FASD. No one or two is necessarily diagnostically significant; many overlap characteristics of other diagnoses, e.g., ADD/ADHD, learning disabilities, and others. Typical primary characteristics in children, adolescents, and adults include:
- Memory problems
- Difficulty storing and retrieving information
- Inconsistent performance ("on" and "off") days
- Impulsivity, distractibility, disorganization
- Ability to repeat instructions, but inability to put them into action ("talk the talk but don't walk the walk")
- Difficulty with abstractions, such as math, money management, time concepts
- Cognitive processing deficits (may think more slowly)
- Slow auditory pace (may only understand every third word of normally paced conversation)
- Developmental lags (may act younger than chronological age)
- Inability to predict outcomes or understand consequences
- Strengths and interests
Strengths and Interests
Many people with FASD have strengths which mask their cognitive challenges.
- Highly verbal
- Bright in some areas
- Artistic, musical, mechanical
- Friendly, outgoing, affectionate
- Determined, persistent
- Good with younger children
In the absence of identification, people with FASD often experience chronic frustration. Over time, patterns of defensive behaviors commonly develop. These characteristics are believed to be preventable and reversible with appropriate supports.
- Fatigue, tantrums
- Irritability, frustration, anger, aggression
- Fear, anxiety, avoidance, withdrawal
- Shut down, lying, running away
These are the net result of a chronic poor fit, failure, isolation and alienation. Like secondary characteristics, they are preventable and reversible with appropriate support.
- Trouble at home, school, and community
- Legal trouble
- Drug / Alcohol abuse
- Mental health problems (depression, self injury, suicidal tendencies)