Peer Mentoring and Consultation
Koru – Specialist Services provides formal and informal peer mentoring and consultation to provide insight and expand knowledge about FASD, behavioral management and trauma-informed care to professionals across education, mental health and social sectors.
Mentoring and consultation can focus on topics that include:
What is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a form of acquired brain injury which occurs in utero and manifests as a neurodevelopmental disorder. FASD is characterized by impairment in multiple areas of brain functioning and, in some cases, characteristic facial features, extremely small head circumference and other birth defects which vary for each individual.
There are neurodevelopmental characteristics that are commonly associated with FASD, namely: memory challenges, impulsivity, distractibility, disorganisation, inconsistent performance, difficulty storing and retrieving information, difficulty with abstractions, ability to repeat instructions but inability to put them into action, cognitive processing deficits, slow auditory pace, developmental lags, and inability to predict outcomes (www.fascets.org).
Causes of FASD
FASD is caused by a fetus being exposed to alcohol in utero, termed prenatal alcohol exposure. Prenatal alcohol exposure causes diffuse, permanent and irreversible damage to the fetal brain resulting in lifelong dysfunction and disabilities. Fetal brain development occurs throughout gestation and therefore brain injury can occur at anytime from alcohol exposure. The effect of prenatal alcohol exposure on the fetus is also influenced by a range of factors including:
- Timing, dose and frequency of alcohol intake
- Maternal age, health and genetics
- Fetal genetics
Impact of FASD
Children with FASD often fail academically and have poor social skills, as a consequence of prenatal brain injury, which can lead to secondary problems:
- Disruptive school experience
- Trouble with the law
- Inappropriate sexualized behaviour
- Alcohol or other drug misuse
- Fatigue and tantrums
- Irritability, anger and frustration
Early diagnosis and a stable care environment with structure and routines during childhood can reduce the risk of these adverse outcomes.
Why Diagnose Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
A FASD diagnosis:
- Helps us understand the cause of an individuals challenges and to develop realistic expectations of their capacity
- Helps identify the strengths and needs of the individual and their families
- Provides an explanatory framework for an individual’s developmental, behavioural, learning and mental health challenges
- Assists in planning supports and interventions to improve their development, learning, functional outcomes and quality of life
- Helps professionals develop appropriate recommendations for management of referrals and interventions
- Connects parents and caregivers to appropriate supports
- Helps prevent FASD in future pregnancies
- Raises public awareness about the risk of harm from drinking during pregnancy
- Provide evidence to use when advocating for prevention, improve services, treatment and parental support
Information About Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Spectrum Disorder
FASD EVALUATION PREPARATION – Thinking about obtaining an FASD Evaluation? These evaluations often have long waiting lists and take just as long to complete. Here is a guide on how you can prepare for an evaluation, make it as thorough as possible, and hopefully speed the process up a bit. (www.FASDElephant.coSeptember 19, 2007)
Cook, J. L., Green, C. R., Lilley, C. M., Anderson, S. M., Baldwin, M. E., Chudley, A. E., Conry, J. L., Leblanc, N., Loock, C. A., Lutke, J., Mallon, B. F., McFarlane, A. A., Temple, V. K., Rosales, T., M & Mallon, B. F. (2016). Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder: a guideline for diagnosis across the lifespan. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 188(3), 191-197.
Astley, S.J. (2012). FAS facial photographic analysis software. FAS diagnostic & prevention network.
Seattle: University of Washington.
Bower, C., Elliott, E.J. (2016), on behalf of the Steering Group. Report to the Australian Government
Department of health: “Australian Guide to the diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)”