What is FASD?
FASD is 100% Preventable!
The term FASDs is not intended for use as a clinical diagnosis.
Diagnostic terms under the FASDs umbrella may include:
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
- Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (pFAS)
- Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND)
- Alcohol Related Birth Defects (ARBD)
- Neurobehavioral Disorder Associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (ND-PAE)
Individuals who do not meet diagnostic criteria in all three domains might be diagnosed with one of the other conditions under the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders continuum, such as Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder or Neurobehavioral Disorder Associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (ND-PAE).
Source: FASD Competency-Based Curriculum Development Guide (2008)
ND-PAE is a neurocognitive disability, where an individual can have problems with learning, and behavior challenges. ND-PAE is a mental health diagnosis and is listed in the appendix of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a “condition for further study”. Clinicians may evaluate a patient for ND-PAE by recording “other specified neurobehavioral disorder” followed by the specific reason: prenatal alcohol exposure and use Code 315.8.
Source: National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, 2016
Drinking alcohol up to the 13th week of pregnancy can cause:
- severe brain damage;
- problems with the heart, liver and kidneys;
- facial malformations.
Drinking alcohol between weeks 14 and 26 can cause:
- brain damage;
- damaged muscles, skin, teeth, glands and bones.
Drinking alcohol between weeks 27 and 40 can cause:
- brain and lung damage;
- low birth weight;
- early labor and delivery.
Are you an expectant mother and concerned about your drinking?
Are you planning a pregnancy and concerned about a medication you are taking?
If you are thinking about getting pregnant or have just found out you are pregnant. Please stop drinking now! Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders is 100% preventable! If a developing baby is not exposed to alcohol during pregnancy, they will not have an FASD.
If you are sexually active and consume alcohol, it is recommended that you and your partner use a reliable and consistent birth control method to help prevent an alcohol-exposed pregnancy.
If you need assistance to stop using alcohol or other substance, please contact the NC Alcohol and Drug Council for more information.
What we cannot change about FASDs are called Primary Characteristics and include:
- Facial features associated with FAS;
- Height and weight (small in stature);
- Brain damage (learning disabilities, memory problems, poor impulse control).
Secondary Characteristics can be reduced and possibly prevented with early identification and support within the home and school setting. Secondary characteristics can include:
- Mental health problems;
- Disrupted school experience;
- Family conflict;
- Trouble with the law;
- Confinement (includes jail, mental health and chemical dependency treatment);
- Inappropriate sexual behavior;
- Alcohol/drug problems;
- Dependent living;
- Employment problems.
Ann Streissguth (1996) has conducted a long-term study of the secondary disabilities associated with FAS.
Need more information?
Also, if a woman is trying to refrain from alcohol during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, the support of her family and significant other is extremely important. Some partners are choosing not to drink during these times as well.
The Impact of Alcohol
on the Developing Brain
Content Coming Soon.
Interventions for Addressing Behaviors
Just as people with disabilities may need external support to accomplish daily living tasks, so do people with FASDs. But instead of needing ramps and wheelchairs to maneuver through their daily life, they may require an “external brain”. Essentially, that means that the people who are important in the life of a person with FASDs (parents, family members, teachers, counselors) need to make adjustments to the environment so it is structured, predictable and consistent. This will help the person with FASDs be successful.
Every child or adult with FASDs is unique, so interventions and accommodations should be individualized to meet their special needs. Remember that FASDs is brain damage and how an individual may function will vary depending on where they are on the spectrum. Below are some general guidelines for parents and professionals to consider.
It is really important for the caregivers to be in agreement about how they are going to address challenging behaviors and to select interventions that address the child’s specific needs. Constant reinforcement of these positive strategies in both the home and learning environment are critical.
Keep it Simple.
People with FASDs often learn the best in a simple environment with few distractions. They also often learn best with simple, concise instructions. It may be helpful to address the child at their developmental age, instead of their chronological age. Caregivers may find it helpful to take the child’s age and cut it in half. That is the age you can expect them to act, and how you interact with them.
Structure, Structure, Structure!
Structure helps people with FASDs make sense out of the world. So, it is important for the caregivers to provide as much structure in their daily schedule as possible. Using a picture schedule to help children with an FASD understand the daily schedule is also very helpful.
Often people with FASDs are literal thinkers. It is important for the caregivers to be very specific about what is expected in concrete terms. Say exactly what you mean and avoid abstract language. Give directions step by step. Break larger tasks into smaller tasks.
People with an FASD can sometimes accidentally get into trouble because they do not always anticipate the consequences of their actions. It is important to provide adequate supervision to assure that they stay safe.