Fetal Alcohol Syndrome


Other Health Impairments—Alcohol-related Diagnoses


The spectrum of alcohol-related diagnoses includes:


Our nation’s special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines diabetes under “other health impairment,” which means…

“…having limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette syndrome; and adversely affects a child’s educational performance.”

[34 code of Federal Regulations §300.8(c)(9)]


The Center for Disease Control estimates that .02-1.5 cases of FAS occur for every 1,00 births. There are approximately three times that many cases of FASDs than FAS. Prevalence varies by state. (CDC, 2011).


FASDs are caused by a woman drinking alcohol during pregnancy. There is no known amount of alcohol that is safe to drink while pregnant. (CDC, 2011).


To prevent FASDs, a woman should not drink alcohol while she is pregnant or even when she might get pregnant. This is because a woman could get pregnant and not know for several weeks. In the US, half of pregnancies are unplanned. (CDC, 2011)


Deciding if a child has FASD takes several steps. There is no one test to diagnose FASD, and many other disorders have similar symptoms. Following is an overview of the diagnostic guidlines. For more detail the the full text (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/documents/fas_guidelines_accessible.pdf)

To be diagnosed with FASD a person must have:



No two people with an FASD are exactly alike. FASDs can include physical or intellectual disabilities, as well as problems with behavior and learning. These symptoms can range from mild to severe. Treatment services for people with FASDs should be different for each person depending on the symptoms. There is no cure for FASDs, but research shows that early intervention treatment services can improve a child’s development. (CDC, 2011)

Studies have shown that some protective factors can help reduce the effects of FASDs and help people with these conditions reach their full potential. These factors include: early diagnosis; involvement in special education and social services; loving, nurturing, and stable home environment; and absence of violence. (CDC, 2011)

Types of Treatment:


Common areas of concern in the classroom:

Strategies for teachers:


For additional information, please visit the CDC website below for information and links to websites developed for teachers working with students diagnosed with FASDs.



FAS Family Resource Institute (FAS*FRI) 


Based in Idaho, the purpose of this non-profit is to identify, understand and care for individuals disabled by prenatal alcohol exposure and their families, and to prevent future generations from having to live with this disability. Visit the website contact this organization through their online form.

Children's Research Triangle 

180 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 700
Chicago, IL. 60601

Children’s Research Triangle (CRT) is dedicated to the healthy development of children and their families. Their mission is to provide research driven services that improve the quality of life for all children with special needs or those who are at risk for developmental, behavioral, psychological, or educational problems.

National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS)

1200 Eton Court, NW
Washington, D.C. 20007 

NOFAS is dedicated to eliminating birth defects caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy and to improving the quality of life for those affected individuals and families.

Al-Anon/Alateen Family Group Headquarters 

1600 Corporate Landing Parkway
Virginia Beach, VA 23454-5617
757-563-1600 or 1-800-356-9996

This organization helps families and friends recover from the stress of living with a friend or relative who has a drinking problem. Alateen is a recovery program for young people and is sponsored by Al-Anon members.

The Arc of the United States 

1825 K Street, NW
Suite 1200
Washington, D.C. 20006 


The Arc promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.