Learn About FASD
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Learn About FASD

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) describes the range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects may include physical, mental, behavioural and learning disabilities.

FASD affects approximately 1% of the population according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. However, due to inadequate public education, lack of diagnostic services and inaccurate diagnosis not everyone affected by FASD is properly acknowledged.

The primary disabilities associated with FASD are difficulties with attention, filtering sensory information, language, memory, planning and initiating activities, regulating emotions and life skills. Often these children and youth have normal intelligence but have difficulty using the information they have in an organized fashion.

FASD is often referred to as the invisible disability. Due to the fact we cannot SEE the disability it often goes misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. If those diagnosed with FASD are not properly understood and supported at home, at school and in the community they can develop secondary characteristics such as poor school experiences, trouble with the law, drug or alcohol addiction, problems with employment and mental health disorders.

There is a hopeful future for those diagnosed under FASD, particularly if a diagnosis occurs early in life. A stable family home and school placement with people that understand and support the primary disabilities of FASD are keys for success. Remember that the difficulties exhibited by those diagnosed with FASD is rather a brain-based invisible physical disability with behavioural symptoms.

Contributions to this site are collections of work by professionals and parents in Waterloo Region.  Readers may find that different language is used throughout the site to explain FASD (e.g., a brain-based invisible physical disability with behavioural symptoms, organic brain damage, neuro-behavioural disorder, etc). What is important behind the term, is the meaning.  FASD is a lifelong disability that has affected the brain because of a mother drinking alcohol during pregnancy.  This disability has a wide range of effects across all domains of a child's life.  For this reason they will require support the rest of their lives.