Diagnoses Questions

Are there other mental conditions that can co-occur with FASDs?

Signs and symptoms of an FASD are similar to some mental illnesses. In many cases, the signs and symptoms of an FASD go unrecognized or are misdiagnosed as a mental illness or brain injury. Individuals with an FASD may also receive multiple diagnoses, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder, and anxiety disorder. Therefore, it is important to determine whether the symptoms are a result of prenatal alcohol exposure or have another root cause. If an FASD is unrecognized, treatments may be ineffective. When the best possible diagnostic and treatment methods do not work, consider the possibility of an FASD. An FASD assessment may be in order, including neuropsychological tests, by a clinician familiar with FASD. FASD can co-occur with many disorders, such as: Major depressive or bipolar disorder, psychotic disorders, autism or Asperger’s syndrome, schizophrenia, personality or conduct disorders, reactive attachment disorder, traumatic brain injury

How Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Co-Occur With Mental Illness PDF1

Source: (1) https://www.acog.org/

I adopted my child. How do I know whether he/she has FASD and not some other disorder?

A large percentage of foster and adopted children with FASD are misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. If possible, try to ascertain whether your child was exposed to alcohol in utero. If that is not possible, talk with a doctor about the possibility that your child may have FASD and see if your child meets the criteria for FAS.

Source: http://www.nofas.org/faqs/i-adopted-my-child-how-do-i-know-whether-heshe-has-fasd-and-not-some-other-disorder/

What is the difference between FASD and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

While Autism Spectrum Disorder and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder are similar and can be difficult to distinguish because both disorders are characterized by inappropriate social behavior and difficulty interacting with peers, the two are rather different. Some of the differences between ASD and FASD include: Children with autism have a harder time relating to others or initiating social interaction. Individuals with FASD may develop verbal and non-verbal skills slower than normal, but they usually eventually do develop them while individuals with autism may not. Children with autism may speak in a stilted, robotic manner or not at all while children with FASD are usually able to speak more easily. Individuals with FASD tend to be more animated and outgoing while individuals with autism have a hard time expressing spontaneous emotion. Both disorders are characterized by difficulty with change in rituals, but children with autism are much more unyielding than children with FASD.

Source: https://www.medicalhomeportal.org/issue/distinguishing-fetal-alcohol-spectrum-disorders-from-autism-spectrum-disorder

What is the difference between FASD and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)?

The behavioral phenotype of children with FASD includes difficulties with executive function, memory, planning, processing speed, and attention. Although attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is diagnosed in up to 94% of individuals with heavy prenatal alcohol exposure, the exact relationship between FASD and ADHD is unclear. There is some evidence that ADHD in FASD may be a specific clinical subtype and thus may require a different treatment approach. Although traditional behavioral observation scales may not distinguish between the two groups, there is evidence that children with FASD have a different profile on the four-factor model of attention than children with ADHD who do not have FASD. There is a paucity of good scientific evidence on effective interventions for individuals with ADHD and FASD. There is weak evidence that children with FASD and ADHD may have a better response to dexamphetamine than methylphenidate.

Source: (Peadon, E., & Elliot, E.J. [2010]. Distinguishing between attention-deficit hyperactivity and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in children: Clinical guidelines. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 6: 509–515.)

What is the Impact of FASD?