FASD Course

In response to the report, Excluded: Increasing Understanding, Support and Inclusion for Children with FASD and their Families, UBC CPD has worked with medical experts and those with lived experience to develop foundational training in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)-informed care for BC health professionals.  

FASD-informed Care: An Introduction for Health Professionals describes the most common FASD signs and symptoms, social and cultural causes of FASD, challenges learners’ biases and shares care practices informed by the needs and experiences of people with FASD and their families.  

“The information provided will be able to assist with providing appropriate, bias free, direct care to those who are already diagnosed with FASD, or in a state of diagnostic query,” says a course participant.

Funded by the BC Ministry of Health and BC Provincial Health Services Authority, this course aims to raise FASD awareness and provide the latest scientific research with stories, reflections and strategies to health professionals across the province. 

A child with FASD becomes an adult with FASD

FASD is a lifelong medical condition that affects an estimated 4% of all Canadians. The condition is caused by pre-natal exposure to alcohol and results in permanent multi-systemic effects.

Common physical, behavioural, cognitive and adaptive functioning and life skill effects associated with FASD include

  • growth delay, including low birth weight and height
  • distinctive facial features such as a smooth philtrum, thin upper lip and small eye openings
  • challenges in social interactions and understanding social cues
  • increased likelihood of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression and substance abuse
  • difficulties with attention, memory and executive functioning
  • learning disabilities and developmental delays
  • difficulties in daily living activities and self-care

Supportive care that starts in childhood can set youth and adults with FASD up for success. However, the condition is difficult to diagnose as it requires pediatric evaluation and neurodevelopmental assessments and is further complicated by an associated stigma and bias. 

FASD is common and stigmatized

While this condition does not differentiate by race, ethnicity or socioeconomic background, people with FASD and their families still experience bias, discrimination and harmful health-care experiences.  

Harmful biases include the belief that FASD is linked to intentional alcohol consumption during pregnancy and is predominantly an issue within Indigenous and/or marginalized groups — this frames a myth that the condition is entirely preventable and attributes undue blame and shame to mothers, families and entire communities.

To provide equitable care and make accurate diagnoses, health professionals must recognize and address their biases around FASD.

Small changes make a big difference  

While many barriers faced by people with FASD are systemic, using FASD-friendly language, understanding the brain-based challenges behind behaviours and involving friends and family in care can significantly improve the care experience for people with FASD.

The social model of disability, for instance, focuses on shifting the attempt to ‘fix’ the individual’s impairment to identifying and dismantling the barriers that limit their ability to fully participate in society.

These barriers can include inaccessible healthcare facilities, inflexible healthcare policies, biases or misconceptions about FASD and more. By challenging these obstacles with an FASD-informed approach, health professionals can significantly improve the care experience for people with FASD and their families.

“Great content. Will recommend this program to students and staff I am training,” says a recent course participant.

Read about the experience of those with FASD and their families and how to improve care in our eLearning module to earn credits.


This project was created in response to Recommendation 8 in Excluded: Increasing Understanding, Support and Inclusion for Children with FASD and their Families published in 2021 by the Representative for Children and Youth.

Funding for the development of this online course was provided by the BC Ministry of Health and BC Provincial Health Services Authority.

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