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Living with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)

Children and young people with FASD have many positive attributes. Parents and carers frequently comment on the positive attributes and some of the things they enjoy doing.

  • Very loving, affectionate, generous
  • Do anything for anyone, helpful
  • Very creative
  • Musical
  • Good at sport – football, basketball, gymnastics
  • Like mechanics and building
  • Love technology – using iPads


What parent and carers say

“Once you find what your child is good at, they can excel in that area. They thrive in doing something that they do well.”
“Our kids need to focus on something that they can wrap themselves up in – whether they are good at it or that it simply makes them feel better.”
“Even though he’s only nine I have learnt so much from him.”


People with FASD have challenges

Every person with FASD will have strengths and difficulties in different areas. This depends on the parts of the brain that have been most damaged by exposure to alcohol. There is no 'one size fits all' for people with FASD and not everyone will experience the same difficulties.


What life can be like - what parents say

“I can never change the rules on him. If I vary from the routine once, that is his new rule. I have to be extremely consistent.”
“Our kids struggle with a lot of things…”
  • I don’t get him to sleep till 2 or 3 in the morning, then he wakes up at 6am
  • One addiction after another
  • Without a plan or advance warning my son loses it. It’s impacted on every part of his development – and he struggles
  • They get put in the too hard basket at school
  • They can’t shop, can’t do money, have difficulty with time and time management
  • My child gets overwhelmed at the shops – all the lights, the sounds
“I am on standby every hour of the day to respond.”
“I’m my child’s external brain and she cannot function without it.”
“They can switch from abuse and anger to loving in an instant and they don’t remember what happened.”
“There is no cause and effect – they don’t understand the consequences.”

Vanessa's Story

Dr Vanessa Spiller is a Clinical Psychologist and parent to a young adult living with FASD. This video highlights their journey and the importance of finding strengths and interest and building good relationships.

Anita's Story

Dr Anita Gibbs is a social worker and parent to three teenagers, two of whom have been diagnosed with FASD. In this video, Anita and her son Dima share their experiences and encourage health professionals to work in partnership with families to bring about positive solutions.

Kath's story - caring for carers' mental health

Kath is a carer of two young children with FASD. The focus of this video is on caring for the carers' mental health.

Watch some more videos

Stories from people and families living with FASD

What children with FASD say about living with FASD - what do they like and what strengths do they have?

Photo of woman smelling rose bush

Jacob who is 13 years old has a special interest in photography and is saving to buy a new camera. He produced a series of Christmas cards and this is his photo of his mum in the garden 'Don't forget to smell the roses'. Jacob entered this photo into the creative artworks competition.

Typed story of living with FASD by Faith 11 years oldFaith has written a story about her life. She is 11 years old and likes animals, swimming and playing on the trampoline and swing. Faith submitted her story to the creative artworks competition.

Drawing by 11 year old

FASD is different for everyone. Saige submitted a drawing of how it feels for her. She submitted this drawing to the creative artworks competition. Saige is 11 years old

Photo Jazpa


Sam and Jazpa submitted their story to the creative artworks competition as a video which includes a beautiful photo montage. Jazpa is 11 years old.

Watch the video

Photo of boy reading

Dima's mum Anita presented at the 2nd Australasian FASD Conference. In this video Dima is telling his story of living with FASD.

Watch the video

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 is not only a challenging disability for people living with FASD, but also for their families. It can be demanding, tough, sometimes isolating and stressful. There are good days and bad days. Contact NOFASD Australia for information, support and advice.

Page last updated 10 October 2019