During her pregnancy, Sophie drank occasionally. At 14, her son received a diagnosis.

After lots of tests, visits with clinicians, and a long search for answers and clarity, Sophie and her husband were told their 14-year-old son had foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

FASD is when the brain is damaged during the growth of the fetus amid a pregnancy. The disorder can manifest itself as a number of different conditions, and these can impact a number of different body systems. It’s variable, depending on the amount of alcohol consumed during pregnancy, and the sensitivity of the fetus.

There can be some physical differences, as well as predominantly behavioural differences. This can include ADHD, learning difficulties, intellectual disability, sleep problems, developmental delays, low body weight and more, according to medical experts. 

Sophie says most of her son’s challenges are around learning and executive functioning. But he thrives at being hands-on in things, and he recently left school to get into a work-based program instead.

“When we got the diagnosis, I think we actually felt validated. We had been looking everywhere for answers to try and support him as best we could. Now we have the background, we can find the right approach to accommodating his brain-based differences,” she notes.

Currently, Sophie’s son is in his late teens and he is expecting a child with his girlfriend. 

While Sophie has no concerns on how they will care for the baby, certain parts of her son’s condition don’t allow for things like forward thinking. Scenarios such as making sure there are enough nappies, or making sure they sterilise bottles are now front of mind.