FASD is usually diagnosed by a multidisciplinary team consisting of a speech language pathologist, psychologist, occupational therapist, and a medical doctor.

Only a doctor and a diagnostic team of other specialists can make a diagnosis of FASD.

Diagnosis of FASD is so important because children who are affected by FASD have better outcomes if they are diagnosed prior to age 6. That’s because:

  • the diagnosis allows parents to respond appropriately to needs, behaviours, and learning style of their children
  • it gives families words to explain difficult realities in their lives
  • it provides access to special programs through disability funding
  • it gives the children affected by FASD a way to understand their difficulties

Here is how a mother in one of our communities who drank alcohol during her pregnancy describes how important getting a diagnosis of FASD was:

Audio Transcription:

“My 8 year old was diagnosed with Alcohol Related Neurodevelopment Disorder which is one kind of FASD. I have to know exactly what it is because that helps me cope with it. I had to be really persistent to get the diagnosis. And I’m so glad we got it – it really shines a light on my son’s future in school, and in our family, and with his siblings because it really helps us all. He didn’t deserve this FASD and we owe it to him to help him and give him the best chance we can at success.”

Talking to a birth mother about FASD must be done in a very sensitive way. For more information about this topic, go to the Strategies section of this site, here.

Diagnosis—an issue for our communities
In northern communities, there is very limited access to diagnosis – there is a diagnostic clinic based in Kenora called the Northwestern Ontario FASD Diagnostic Clinic (DOWNLOAD PDF). They have a waiting list, but it’s important to get on the waiting list as soon as possible. When you call the clinic, they will walk you through the process. They will do everything they can to address the travel and access issues for children and families from remote communities. It’s on a case-by-case basis. Contact the case manager, Rick McKenzie, at 1-800-465-7203. Here is what a mother in one of our communities had to say about the need to be persistent in getting a diagnosis: 


Audio Transcription:

“I had to be really persistent. He was finally diagnosed with FASD (ARND) – I have to know what it is because that helps me cope with it. I’m so glad we finally got the diagnosis – it really shines a light on my son’s future in school, and in our family and with his siblings because it really helps us all.”