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What service providers can do

Children and young people with FASD often access and require support in several environments across multiple systems of care. A coordinated, multidisciplinary and multisystem approach should be maintained between family, out of home care and child protection organisations, school and other education institutions, work, and community and support services and therapists to ensure consistency in the individual’s environment. To achieve positive outcomes, service providers need to understand that it is the system or program that may need to be modified, rather than the person with FASD.

How can service providers help

Child protection, out of home care, disability, mental health and drug and alcohol organisations need to:

  • listen and acknowledge the concerns of parents and carers
  • ensure staff in their organisation understand FASD and the impacts it has on people and their families
  • recognise that strategies used for people who do not have cognitive impairments may not work for people with FASD e.g. drug and alcohol programs
  • work with the families to ensure consistent strategies - home, school and work

Supporting children living with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: Practice Principles

This Australian publication by McLean, McDougall and Russell provides a summary of what the authors consider are the key principles:

Knowledge and understanding as well as well-coordinated cross-sector initiatives are need to reduce the impact of FASD on children's lives.

  • Ask about the impact of parental alcohol exposure on chilren's development
  • Ensure children are supported by ongoing and specialised case management
  • Adapt services to accommodate children with 'brain based' barriers to service use
  • Reframe challenging behaviour as a 'brain based' difficulty
  • Ensure the environment is simplified, structurerand supervised
  • Teach (and reteach) children missing skills using enhanced methods

FASD Informed Practice for Community Based Programs

This Canadian publication by the College of New Caledonia also identifies principles for FASD informed practice.

  • An awareness that FASD (diagnosed and undiagnosed) is a reality for some participants
  • A strong theoretical and practical understanding of the traits, characteristics, barriers and needs of those affected by FASD
  • A willingness on the part of all staff including administration, reception and frontline workers,to participate in ongoing FASD education and training initiatives
  • Agency policies that accommodate the unique needs of individuals who live with FASD in an effort to make the program fit for participants
  • Reflective practice whereby staff are encouraged to work as a team to debrief and problem solve
  • Service providers use of an 'FASD lens' to develop strategies and supports on an individual basis according to each participant’s presenting behaviours and assets
  • Trusting relationships between participants and service providers,and a respectful and individualized approach to service delivery that recognizes participants’ strengths

Common difficulties and tips

Ten domains of neurodevelopment (the brain's neurological pathways that influence performance or functioning) are known to be affected by alcohol exposure in pregnancy. The following information links those 10 domains with common difficulties seen in people with FASD and tips for helping to improve skills and manage daily activities.

FASD in Australia

Managing FASD

Challenges and Hope

Michael and Lina’s story

Video resource: The story of alcohol use in pregnancy and FASD

This video was produced by FARE Australia with Professor Elizabeth Elliott, a paediatrician at the University of Sydney and leader in the field of prenatal alcohol exposure and FASD.

It provides an overview of alcohol use in pregnancy, FASD, diagnosis and management.