Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) resources

Ngā rauemi Mate Waipiro Kōngahungahu Whānui

Last updated 28 July 2023
Last updated 28 July 2023

Information, resources and tools to help you meet the needs of learners with FASD/neurodiversity. Best practice for these learners is best practice for all learners.

Becoming neurodiversity-capable will support your learner success approach

Fundamental to the Tertiary Education Commission’s (TEC's) Ōritetanga learner success approach is understanding all learners and their needs and aspirations.

These resources can be used alongside the Kia Ōrite Toolkit, and are a vital resource for tertiary education organisations (TEOs) developing a Disability Action Plan. Together these will help TEOs to redesign their businesses with learners at the centre.

Ōritetanga – tertiary success for everyone

Kia Ōrite Toolkit

Disability Action Plans

What is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)?

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a diagnostic term for a neuro-developmental disorder that results from prenatal alcohol exposure. FASD is the leading cause of non-genetic developmental neuro-disability in the developed world. It describes a broad spectrum of physical and developmental disabilities that occur as a direct result of prenatal exposure to alcohol.

People with FASD can experience complex physical, behavioural, cognitive and learning challenges throughout their lives. FASD is diverse and individual, depending on when and how much alcohol was consumed while the brain and body were developing.

The Ministry of Health has estimated that 3–5 percent of the population in Aotearoa have FASD, based on international prevalence data. This means about eight babies are born each day in Aotearoa with FASD. FASD is more common than autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy combined.

FASD is largely an invisible disorder. While it sometimes occurs with particular facial features, fewer than 5 percent of people with FASD have these. FASD occurs across a range of IQs, affecting executive and adaptive functioning skills.

With the right supports and accommodations people with FASD can achieve academically and lead productive and fulfilling lives.

Resources and tools to help meet the needs of learners with FASD/neurodiversity

The TEC is committed to actively supporting TEOs to deliver quality education and training to learners with FASD and other neurodivergent conditions.

We have pulled together resources from New Zealand and other countries to assist you to provide inclusive education to these learners.

Please note: We have gathered these resources from a wide range of sources. Neurodiversity/FASD is an evolving field. We have made every effort to ensure that all sources are reputable. However, their inclusion does not indicate endorsement by the TEC.

We will add more information and resources over time.

Overview books on FASD

FASD: Strategies not solutions (PDF 2.2MB) by Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Network (2007)

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: A handbook for parents, caregivers and their families/whānau by FASD-CAN Inc (2022)

A valuable toolkit of FASD strategies, packed with Aotearoa-specific information, advice, strategies and tips. It aims to help make life easier for caregivers, whānau or frontline professionals supporting an individual with FASD. Free to download.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders education strategies: Working with students with a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in the education system (PDF 2.8MB) by Kristen Blaschke, Marcia Maltaverne and Judy Struck (2009)

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: A guide for families and communities by Ann Streissguth (1997)

Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: Strategies for learning, behaviour and communication (PDF 487KB) by Barry S. Parsonson (2014)

Trying differently rather than harder: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (revised edition) by Diane Malbin (2017)

New Zealand organisations

Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Care Action Network (FASD-CAN) – New Zealand’s national advocacy and support organisation for people with FASD, their caregivers and whānau, and the professionals that work with them. You can contact them through their website.

Alcohol Healthwatch – “Alcohol Healthwatch is an organisation of professionals dedicated to reducing and preventing alcohol-related harm and inequities in Aotearoa New Zealand. They are funded by the Ministry of Health. Their role is to provide credible and up-to-date evidence-based information on matters relating to alcohol policy and planning. Their priority is to mobilise communities to take action on a range of alcohol-related harms, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.”

New Zealand case studies

Disordered: The shame of how New Zealand treats people with FASD – a powerful documentary by Stuff Circuit about the challenges of living with FASD in Aotearoa

Forsaken: New Zealand's shameful mismanagement of FASD Stuff article from 6 March 2022 about FASD and how it’s managed in Aotearoa

Justice for FASD – an episode of the television programme Attitude about two teens living with FASD

Ko ngā pūrākau a te hunga FASD | Stories from those with FASD – FASD-CAN series of stories about people with FASD and their families and whānau