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Meet Prue Walker: The role of the social worker in FASD diagnosis

Prue Walker:

Hi, my name is Prue Walker. I'm a social worker and I support children and families who are going through FASD diagnosis. Social work is an important part of the diagnostic process and we do lots of things along the way to support children and families towards getting their diagnosis.

Text displayed on the screen: Before the assessment

Prue Walker:

The first step is gathering the information about prenatal alcohol exposure which families need before their child can be assessed, and it can be tricky particularly when it brings up issues from the past, it can be very emotional for birth mothers to talk about this stuff and sometimes children are in care and the carers don't have the information, so as a social worker I will help the family, or I'll help clinicians get that information from medical records or other records.

Getting ready for a FASD diagnostic clinic can also be a lot of work, a lot of stress and when families are struggling with other issues, it's hard for them to work through all the assessments. Sometimes we provide really practical support like helping families fill in some of the paperwork, or going out to meet with them, or just trying to make the process a bit easier and help them understand, you know, why they're going through this process because focusing on the outcome of FASD diagnosis is really important for families.

Text displayed on the screen: After diagnosis

Prue Walker:

After a diagnosis it's also important that social workers are involved, you know, helping carers and families understand what it means, helping them explain it to other people, and that can be really important, particularly in families where there might be a conflict or children might not be living with their birth mother, and the diagnosis can be seen as stigmatising for families or can bring up difficult emotions about the past, so we can help families sort of create a new narrative about how to see this diagnosis as an important thing moving forward, this is about - now we know how the child is, how their brain works and what kind of supports we need, so it's- we very much help families try to focus on positives and on the future.