FASD assessments are provided for children and youth up to age 19 by the Okanagan Ability Centre in partnership with the Interior Health Authority Children’s Assessment Network (IHCAN). The assessments are completed by a multi-disciplinary team that typically includes a pediatrician, a psychologist, and social worker. Additional professionals such as a psychiatrist, a speech/language pathologist, or an occupational therapist may also be involved.

The psychology assessment provided by OAC involves examination of the cognitive, adaptive and behavioural difficulties often evident in individuals with FASD (e.g., intellectual and functional independence deficits, problems with attention and concentration, communication limitations, learning difficulties, and social struggles). Alternate explanations for observed difficulties, such as other medical or psychological disorders, are considered.

Typical Diagnoses Considered
  • FASD (including FAS, Partial FAS, and Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder)
  • Other Medical Conditions
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Specific Learning Disabilities
  • Emotional and behavioural disorders
Types of Conclusions and Recommendations Made
  • Diagnostic formulations
  • Comments regarding appropriate supports within the school system
  • Specific school-based interventions/strategies
  • Other supports required (e.g., speech and language therapy, behavioural consultation, occupational therapy, psychiatric follow-up, family support groups, counseling)
  • Suggestions for caregivers and other involved professionals

Comment:

Sometimes individuals wish to refer a child for an FASD assessment when there is no confirmed documentation of the biological mother’s use of alcohol during pregnancy. Although it is still possible to do the FASD assessment, lacking documentation of prenatal alcohol exposure typically creates difficulties with respect to the final diagnosis that can be made (particularly if the individual does not present with the physical features characteristic of FASD). In those situations, in which the biological mother’s use of alcohol or drugs during pregnancy is not confirmed and the child does not display any physical features of FASD, you may wish to consider referring the child for a comprehensive educational assessment. The psychologist could then provide you with (1) a good understanding of the child’s cognitive and behavioural strengths and weaknesses, (2) a set of recommendations designed to support the child at home and at school, and (3) a comment with respect to whether or not a full FASD assessment seems appropriate. (If a full FASD assessment is recommended at that point, the child would then need only to complete assessment with the pediatrician and with the speech/language pathologist, as well as very limited additional neuropsychological testing with the psychologist).