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FASD impairments

Babies, children, young people and adults living with FASD will have have many strengths but also face significant difficulties in their life. Not every person affected by FASD is the same and not every intervention will be successful.

Difficulties babies and young children

  • Poor sucking reflexes
  • Poor sleep patterns
  • Irritability
  • Cry often or very quiet and not responsive
  • Strong startle reflex
  • Sensory problems (sound, light, touch, smell)
  • Problems with toileting

Difficulties for children and young people

  • Low IQ (not necessarily an intellectual disability with an IQ less than 70)
  • Social and behavioural problems
  • Delayed development
  • Inability to connect past experiences with present action
  • Repeating the same actions or behaviours in the absence of a rationale for that behaviour or emotion
  • May seem competent and agree but not understand
  • Short attention span
  • Inability to generalise information
  • Poor memory
  • Difficulty with organising and scheduling
  • Difficulty with abstract concepts
  • Difficulty with maths, time and money
  • Slow cognitive and auditory pace
  • Difficulty managing time and space
  • Impaired judgment and impulsivity
  • Emotional – angry, frustrated
  • Immature
  • Poor language and communication skills
  • Sensory problems - noise, lighting, pain, cold

Impairments can lead to ...

Although supports and services may have been provided, not all will be successful. Some people will struggle more than others and despite all the best efforts, for some problems will be ongoing throughout childhood, adolescence and into adulthood. 

  • issues at school and other education facilities (as a result of problems with inattention, maths, memory and lower IQ)
  • multiple foster care placements
  • reduced self-esteem and depression
  • social exclusion and vulnerability
  • inappropriate sexual behaviour (victim and perpetrator)
  • problems with alcohol and other drugs
  • difficulty planning, setting goals, being on time and complying with child protection or legal obligations
  • inability to live independently
  • unemployment
  • poverty
  • trouble with the law

There are ten domains of neurodevelopment (the brain's neurological pathways that influence performance or functioning) known to be affected by alcohol exposure in pregnancy. Learn about the link between these ten domains and the common difficulties seen in people with FASD, as well as tips for helping to improve skills and manage daily activities.

FASD is not only a challenging disability for those who live with it, but also for their families. It can be demanding, tough, sometimes isolating and stressful. There are good days and bad days.

NOFASD Australia can help.