CanFASD: The Unique Complexities of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

With an estimated 4% of individuals in Canada living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
(FASD), this disability is more common than most other neurodevelopmental disabilities
combined. However, knowledge and awareness of FASD among both the general public and
service providers continues to lag behind that of other disabilities [1-3]. FASD is a highly
complex disability. With increased knowledge of the complexities associated with FASD,
researchers, service providers, and policy makers will be better equipped to identify individuals
with FASD, support success for individuals with FASD and their families and caregivers, and
develop meaningful policy initiatives that foster well-being and positive outcomes.

The goals of this paper are to: 1) discuss contributing factors to FASD that distinguish the
disability in terms of complexity, co-occurrence, and magnitude, and 2) emphasize the
importance of adapting practice and policy approaches to account for these factors.

In this paper, we will discuss the literature related to FASD as a socially-rooted disability that
has intergenerational impacts, multiple layers of stigmatization, and high rates of mental health
comorbidities; is exacerbated by experiences of adversity across the lifespan; and presents
unique challenges for caregivers and families.

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