Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: Prevalence, Relevance, and Action NCFASD Informed Virtual Conference

This virtual conference will discuss how exposure to alcohol is the leading cause of intellectual and other developmental disabilities in the US. and results in a variety of developmental disability diagnoses collectively referred to as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. About 6,000 children (or 1 in 20 children) are born annually in North Carolina with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. To live more successfully in the community, individuals exposed to alcohol in utero must be diagnosed as early as possible. Unfortunately, only about 10% are diagnosed correctly (Chasnoff, 2015, Pediatrics); instead, these individuals receive a plethora of mental health diagnoses. The medications and therapy interventions for these mental health diagnoses are not helpful and, in some cases, harmful, because the behaviors being treated does not consider the underlying brain damage. Special strategies such as consistency, a structured environment, supervision, and the understanding that it is not that the individual is refusing to do something, but rather than s/he can’t (Malbin, 2021) do what is being asked. In addition, for those with a diagnosed FASD, accommodations in school and evidence-based treatment strategies can lead to the avoidance of negative outcomes associated with this disability. FASD is a lifelong brain-based disability which can cause school disruption, victimization, deficits in communication, difficulties in independent living, mental health and substance abuse challenges, lack of job stability, and often involvement in the criminal justice system. FASD cannot be cured.

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