Meet the Facilitators
A Brain-Based Approach to FASD
FASCETS Canada’s work is based on the understanding that Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is a brain-based physical disability.
Is FASD a physical condition? Research has demonstrated that:
- Genetics, trauma, and a wide range of teratogens (agents or factors that cause malformation of an embryo) and events cause physical changes
- Alcohol kills cells, including in the brain
- Alcohol and other drugs affect the structure and function of the brain
- Behaviors are usually the only symptoms…
It then follows that FASD is an invisible physical disability with behavioural symptoms
If, as demonstrated above, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is an invisible physical disability, then providing accommodations for people with FASD is as appropriate and effective as providing accommodations for people with other physical disabilities
A gap exists between the research on FASD, brain research, and behavioural literature. Bridging this gap and linking the idea of brain dysfunction with behaviours creates an alternative theoretical framework that shifts the thinking from learning theory into a neurobehavioural model for understanding the meaning of behaviours typically associated with FASD.
This new paradigm redefines the meaning of behaviours and supports the development of a more holistic and integrated approach for considering the person living with FASD – physical, developmental, and cognitive. Linking brain dysfunction with behaviours is consistent with current research on the brain and on FASD.
Brain = Behaviour
This model provides an organized approach for rethinking the meaning of behaviours, and generating person-centered, relevant accommodations for a person living with FASD.
People with physical challenges are provided with environmental accommodations. The more obvious the disability, the clearer the nature of the accommodations, e.g. with paralysis, wheelchairs and ramps are provided. When presenting symptoms of a physical disability are behavioural, identification of accommodations is more elusive, e.g., modifying timelines, providing alternative instructional strategies, or recognizing developmental rather than chronological age.
However, just as outcomes are drastically improved for people with easily identifiable physical disabilities when their needs have been addressed, preliminary clinical findings looking at children, adults, families and professionals living with and working with FASD clearly indicate the efficacy of this model in improving outcomes.
The goals of this approach are
1) to increase understanding of FASD as a brain-based physical disability with behavioral symptoms
2) to increase effectiveness and efficiency of practice and program design, and
3) to contribute to the long term goals of community healing and prevention of FASD.