What is FASD?

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is a neurodevelopmental impairment which occurs when a mum consumes alcohol while pregnant and causes long term damage to the baby. During pregnancy there is no safe type or amount of alcohol to consume as anything the mother drinks is transferred directly to the baby via the placenta.

NB: Even if you were drinking before you realised you were pregnant stopping right away will decrease the risk of FASD occurring.

What does FASD look like?

In moderate to extreme cases facial and physical abnormalities are an indicator of FASD. These may include small eyes, flat nasal bridge, smooth philtrum (bit between your nose and lip) and small upper lip.

A common occurrence, however,  with FASD  ‘the invisible disability’ is that there may be no obvious signs of a disability. Normal physical presentation and IQ falls in a low to normal range.

FASD is a spectrum disorder and therefore everyone will be affected differently. They may have all the markers or only some.  It often appears alongside other issues and can easily be overlooked.

How do I know if it is FASD?

The biggest indicator when there are no physical markers is often the behavior and processing of the person.

A good acronym to apply in the early consideration of an FASD concern, particularly when the mothers history may not always be known, is too look at the following areas;

Adaptive behavior





Executive Function


Sensory Processing


A formal diagnosis is possible through a comprehensive assessment that considers

  • Fetal Exposure
  • Neuro- developmental impairment
  • Facial or physical features


Useful Resources

Check out our list of websites and info for our local support group which may be helpful for further information and support:




Contact: fasd@mirrorservices.org.nz