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FASD diagnosis - why is it important?

Why get a FASD diagnosis? Many people question why a diagnosis is important when there is a potential for stigma for both the mother and child, there are not many services and supports for people with FASD and they may have other conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Autism and health professionals may say you don’t need any further diagnoses.

It is easy to misdiagnose FASD and research shows that diagnoses of Autism and ADHD often precede a correct or additional diagnosis of FASD. The importance of diagnosing FASD is that therapy & management for each of these disorders can be different and expectations for outcomes is important. Appropriate therapy and management is dependent on correct diagnosis.

Diagnosis is important on many levels

Diagnosis can contribute to preventing further alcohol exposed pregnancies

Diagnosis can contribute to breaking the intergenerational cycle of FASD

A diagnosis has many benefits for...

Child and their family

  • To understand strengths and difficulties
  • Help them understand that the difficulties are a result of exposure to alcohol, not that they aren't trying or poor parenting
  • To design early intervention and supportive therapy
  • To enable access to services and support
  • Prevent secondary conditions and issues
  • Contribute to positive long term outcomes

School and community

  • To understand how FASD impacts on children and their learning, and what interventions are required to support them
  • To raise community awareness and change the social norms around drinking in pregnancy

Research base for intervention

  • To identify how many children are affected
  • Trial intervention strategies
  • Establish evidence based practice approach to treatment

Parents and carers share why it is important to get a diagnosis

“Getting a diagnosis is critical when they are young. Then they can get the support and understanding to have a better, happier life.”

“If I knew then what I know now (ie. the diagnosis) he would have had a better start.”
“I remember crying for three days straight when he was diagnosed.”

“The diagnosis itself hasn’t changed anything for me – but it puts a name for it and I can now seek support for me and my child.”

Health professionals talk about making a diagnosis

“It might be devastating for us [the health professionals] because we see the long-term challenges, but it’s often a relief for the parents.”

“Diagnosis of FASD is not standalone. We are not trying to downplay those other comorbidities or causes. We factor them in.”

“We’ve all gone through various stages of grief for ourselves. We share the trauma of what the families are going through in the process.”

Watch some videos

Telethon Kids Institute

FASD the invisible disability

Page last updated 11 November 2020