FASD: Treatment and follow-up

Key points

  • If fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is diagnosed early, interventions may be able to lessen its impact and prevent secondary disabilities.

Treatment

People with FASD and their families should be linked to resources and services that will improve outcomes. However, where services are limited in the community, an individual should not be denied an assessment for diagnosis and treatment.

Various treatment and support options exist for people with FASD:

  • therapy (e.g, speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, physical therapy)
  • mental health care
  • medication to ease some FASD symptoms
  • behavioural and educational therapy
  • education and support for families and caregivers
  • alternative approaches, including auditory training, creative art therapy and meditation.

Special programs can help people with FASD maximize their independence and achievements.

Protective factors

Some factors can help to reduce the effects of FASD and help individuals reach their full potential. These protective factors include:

  • early diagnosis
  • involvement in special education and social services
  • a loving, nurturing, stable home environment
  • absence of violence.

Prevention of FASD

In Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Prevention: Canadian Perspectives, the Public Health Agency of Canada identifies four levels of FASD prevention:

  • broad awareness-building and health promotion efforts
  • discussing alcohol use and related risks with all women of childbearing years and their support networks
  • specialized, holistic support of pregnant women with alcohol and other health or social problems
  • postpartum support for new mothers, helping them to initiate and maintain changes in their health and social networks and to support the development of their children.

Follow-up

A member of the diagnostic team should follow up on the outcomes of diagnostic assessments and treatment within a reasonable length of time to ensure that the recommendations have been addressed.

Resources

Addressing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) (Treatment Improvement Protocol series 58). (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2014)

FASD Tool Kit for Aboriginal Families (Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres, 2008).

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