Understanding Your FASD Diagnosis
At Proof Alliance, we believe that individuals with an FASD deserve to be supported and valued no matter their age. It can be difficult accepting that you have an FASD and we are here to provide support and ensure that you understand your diagnosis in order to be an effective self-advocate.
You're Not Alone
It is estimated that 1 in 20 school-age children have an FASD. FASD is caused by alcohol exposure while in the womb. Alcohol passes from the pregnant person to the fetus and can cause changes in the fetus’s brain and development. It is often called an “invisible disability” because with most people you cannot see the disability, unlike someone in a wheelchair or with Down Syndrome. Only 10-15% of people with FASD have facial features that are associated with prenatal alcohol exposure.
FASD is a brain-based disorder. This means the brain works a little differently than those around them. It does not work less, it works differently. People with an FASD have many strengths and are often highly verbal, friendly, caring and hard-working.
Everyone is affected differently. That's why it's called a "spectrum" disorder.
Some common challenges include:
- Concentration and attention issues (ADHD, ADD)
- Difficulty managing emotions, overreacting, or difficulty calming down
- Memory challenges and confabulation
- Anxiety, depression and/or other mental health conditions
- Difficulty completing multi-step tasks
- Slower processing speed (longer time to understand and respond to information)
- Difficulty understanding boundaries or other people’s behaviors
- Sleep issues
- Sensory challenges (over or under sensitivity to sounds, light, clothing, etc.)
- Perseveration (feeling “stuck” on an idea, action, or want)
Tips for Living with an FASD
Focus on your strengths, not challenges
Have a predictable routine each day
Use tools to support memory challenges
Find mental health and medical providers that understand FASD
Ask for help, and become a good self-advocate
Avoid risky situations
Identify and use tools that works for you
Live a healthy lifestyle with balanced nutrition and exercise
1 May et al. Prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in 4 US Communities. JAMA. 2018;319(5): 474-482.
2 Canada FASD Research Network. Basic information. https://canfasd.ca/topics/basic-information/
3 Petrelli B, Weinberg J, Hicks GG. Effects of prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE): insights into FASD using mouse models of PAE. Biochemistry & Cell Biology. 2018;96(2):131-147.