FASD & the Justice System


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Term Definition
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is the umbrella term used to describe the range of defects and disabilities caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. These can include brain damage, vision and hearing difficulties, bones, limbs and fingers that are not properly formed, heart, kidney, liver and other organ damage and slow growth. FASD is not a medical diagnosis but describes a spectrum of medical disabilities.
Frontal Lobes
The largest and most anterior part of each cerebral hemisphere. This area controls impulses and judgment. Contains the prefrontal cortex, which controls what are called the executive functions.
A complex neural structure (shaped like a sea horse) consisting of gray matter and located on the floor of each lateral ventricle of the brain. It plays a critical role in memory, learning and emotion.
The part of the brain that lies below the thalamus, forming the major portion of the ventral region of the diencephalons. It regulates body temperature, certain metabolic processes such as appetite, and other autonomic activities such as pain sensation. It also plays a role in memory.
Neurobehavioural: Having to do with the way the brain affects emotion, behavior, and learning
Neurobehavioural Disorder
is brain damage that has been demonstrated as being less severe than brain damage in ARND/FAS. Neurological disorder is a term that in not in common use in Canada yet. It is used for a type of brain damage less than that seen in ARND or FAS when maternal confirmation is impossible or not forthcoming
a substance that kills neurons, which are nerve cells. In the case of pregnancy a neurotoxin destroys developing neurons. Mercury and lead are two other well-known neurotoxins.
Palpebral fissures
eye slits, the eye slits of a child with FAS are small.
Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome-is a medical diagnosis used to describe an individual born with permanent brain damage and two of the three facial birth defects found in FAS. Confirmation of maternal alcohol use in pregnancy is required for this relatively uncommon diagnosis.
groove between the upper lip and the base of the nose
Primary Behaviours
the primary effects of FASD are those resultant behaviours that most clearly reflect the brain damage caused by the use of alcohol in pregnancy. For example: an inability to effectively use mathematical, time or money concepts.
Secondary Behaviours
the secondary effects of FASD are those behaviours that develop as a result of the stress and strain of living in an environment that has not adapted to the behaviours caused by the primary effects. Secondary effects are generally serious and repetitive. For example: chronic abuse of alcohol or drugs to self-medicate.
Static Encephalopathy
is used for the type of brain damage seen in ARND or FAS when maternal confirmation is impossible or not forthcoming. It is not yet commonly used in Canada.
a substance that causes birth defects. Terato from the Greek meaning monster, Gen from the Greek meaning make; ie. monster-maker Common birth defects include cleft lip and palate, clubfoot, and heart valve defects