Introduction

For those living with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), receiving a diagnosis can play a vital role in their everyday lives. Confirmation of FASD opens up many opportunities to individuals and their families, including improved access to supports and services, appropriate legal counsel, proper medication, additional funding and more. Additionally, knowing the root cause of one’s struggles can provide answers to individuals and their families and, hopefully, some closure.

What is FASD?

Since 2015, FASD became a diagnostic term in Canada.  Please visit our website’s glossary for full definitions of the listed diagnoses including historic terms.

Where diagnosis comes from

Currently only certified medical doctors can diagnose FASD.  However, diagnosis is reached through consultation with psychologists, psychiatrists and other health practitioners as part of “multidisciplinary assessment teams” that examine ten brain domains.

Physicians and psychiatrists also examine facial dysmorphology, neurobehaviour and medical history of prenatal alcohol effects as well as additional relevant medical history.

The ten neurobehavioural domains examined in determining diagnosis are:

  • Motorskills
  • Neuroanatomy/neuro/physiology
  • Cognition
  • Language
  • Academic Achievement
  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Executive Function (includes impulse control)
  • Affect regulation
  • Adaptive behaviour

Physicians and psychiatrists also examine facial dysmorphology, growth, neurobehaviour and medical history of prenatal alcohol effects. Psychologists are only certified to measure domains three to nine.

The experts

We spoke to three prominent Saskatchewan-based doctors working within the field of FASD diagnosis: Dr. Gerald Block, psychologist; Dr. Mansfield Mela, psychiatrist; and Dr. Delores Logan, MD. Each specialist provided their insights into FASD diagnosis, why it’s an important field of work and areas that can be improved.

Please follow the links to each corresponding doctor and their diagnostic interpretations: