Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder: Signs and symptoms
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Signs and symptoms
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is often called a hidden disorder because the majority of people with it have no outward signs of disability. Their learning and behavioural challenges are often mistaken for other disorders or problems.
A person with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder may:
- act impulsively
- have difficulties:
- handling money
- learning how to tell time
- keeping up with classroom learning
- not understand consequences
- be unfocused and easily distracted
- forget how to do something they've done before
IQ is not an indicator of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
Someone with the disorder may also experience problems with their:
- heart and bones
A small number of people are born with certain facial features because of the disorder. These features include:
- a thin upper lip
- small eyes or shorter distance between the eyes
- little or no groove or ridge between the nose and upper lip
Talk to a health care provider if you think you or a loved one may have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
Getting a diagnosis
Getting a diagnosis can be difficult. There is no single test that can cover the disorder's wide range of signs and symptoms.
A team of health professionals gathers information and carries out tests to diagnose someone. These professionals may include:
- a physician
- a psychologist
- a social worker
- an occupational therapist
- a speech and language specialist
A diagnosis can help people get relevant and targeted services and supports, including financial support where available. It can also be comforting to know what's behind your or a loved one's behaviour and feelings.
An early diagnosis and appropriate interventions and support result in more positive outcomes for people with the disorder.
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