On 9 September 2019, International FASD Awareness Day, an inquiry was referred to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee into effective approaches to prevention and diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and strategies for optimising life outcomes for people with FASD.
Individuals, organisations, and institutions across Australia made submissions which explored the breadth of the impact of FASD on Australian communities. NOFASD Australia reviewed all submissions and extracted a series of quotes which define themes that arose across the submissions.
In today’s blog, we explore the theme of diagnosing FASD in Australia.
- FASD diagnosis requires multidisciplinary review including assessment and reports from a number of specialist clinicians including psychiatrists, pediatricians, neuropsychologists, clinical psychologists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and physiotherapists;
- Long waitlists for both public and private providers prevent many people from receiving a timely diagnosis and early intervention;
- Early diagnosis of FASD is a protective factor, reducing the likelihood that a child with FASD will develop secondary conditions in addition to their FASD symptoms;
- Under-diagnosis of FASD prevents collection of accurate prevalence data so we do not currently know how many people in Australia are impacted by FASD;
- Only 41% of allied health and medical professionals are confident in asking about alcohol use during pregnancy which contributes to the under-diagnosis of FASD;
- Diagnosis rates could be improved if institutions such as criminal justice, child safety, and foster care screened every child for FASD upon presentation; and
- For more information about undergoing a FASD diagnostic process, click here.
The final report from the Senate inquiry was released on 17th March 2021.
Stay tuned to the NOFASD blogs for a summary of the findings.