FASD: the basics for ALL professionals


In Aotearoa New Zealand, we are sadly behind other parts of the world in terms of specific resources for professionals who may routinely deal with individuals with FASD, but there is a wealth of resource internationally, particularly in Canada, America, Australia and the UK. Australian and Canadian studies are often comparable with New Zealand because of our similar social/alcohol cultures and indigenous populations.  

In these tabs you'll find some specific information on FASD for 'frontline professionals' – a group defined as including 'anyone who encounters people with FASD in the course of their everyday work, and who is not a specialist in working with FASD and other neurodevelopmental impairments. For example, police, early childhood professionals, teachers, social workers, youth workers, counsellors, those working in kaupapa Māori services, other social services, courts, and health professionals for whom FASD and other neurodevelopmental impairment is not an area of specialisation.'

We have collated some of this specific information for you, but urge all professionals to continue with their own research, as information on FASD is being updated globally all the time.

Below there are a few essential resources for ALL professionals to begin with when dealing with individuals with FASD.

FASD: Essential Strategies
(booklet and online e-learning course)
A Resource for Frontline Professionals

Published in July 2019 by Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui.

This is one of the best Aotearoa-specific resources for professionals we have and we urge you to make it your go-to. The above definition of frontline professionals is taken from this site. The resources consist of a free downloadable handbook AND an e-learning course, which 'sets out the essential values, attributes, knowledge and skills required to provide effective and compassionate support for people affected by FASD and their whānau.'

Click here  for both the e-modular online course 'An Introduction to FASD' and the booklet 'FASD: Essential Strategies'.

FASD Language Guide

The language we use around those with FASD is extremely important to enable them to maintain dignity and respect. This is essential basic reading for all frontline professionals. Click here to read. 

FASD: A three-minute introduction for everyone

This video of the basics from Canada's wonderful Asante Centre is worth watching for quickly getting up to speed.



2021 Canadian study – comparative to New Zealand

A broad and recent study into the health, social and legal outcomes of individuals with diagnosed or at risk for FASD. Entitled 'Health, social and legal outcomes of individuals with diagnosed or at risk for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder: Canadian example', it worked with 160 people with FASD over 4 years and had some sobering, but unsurprising outcomes.

Aotearoa New Zealand has a comparative drinking culture and indigenous population to Canada.

• Individuals with FASD had high rates of physical (38%) and mental health (78%) comorbidities, and 50% used substances.

• Individuals with FASD were involved in the child welfare (75%) and criminal justice (30%) systems.

• Individuals with FASD involved in the child welfare system were over 4 times more likely to have anxiety disorder.