FASD & the Justice System

Dr. Julianne Conry and Dr. Diane Fast developed a tool to help identify the difficulties that affect people with FASD.  ALARM stands for Adaptive behaviour, Language, Attention, Reasoning, Memory.

Adaptive Behaviour Problems

The inability to adapt to the world around them leaves people with FASD unable to meet the age-appropriate standards of personal independence and social responsibility.

Language Problems

  • People with FASD may have challenges with communication because of brain damage.
  • Messages received by FASD affected individuals can be misinterpreted. Symbolic (written and visual), aural and non-verbal forms of communication can be affected.
  • Information processing can be a challenge. The person with FASD may have difficulties retrieving the information needed for appropriate responses in some situations.
  • Expressive language is also compromised due to memory problems, information retrieval challenges and comprehension difficulties. Written language may be compromised because of fine motor problems.

Attention Concerns

Approximately 60% of children with a diagnosis of FASD will have attention deficit problems (Streissguth, A., et al. 1996). As they grow older, these will include distractibility, restlessness, irritability and inability to complete tasks. This attention-deficit problem will have significant effect on thinking and learning patterns, and behaviour.

Reasoning Problems

People with FASD typically do not learn from experience. They can have trouble connecting cause and effect, and do not always appreciate the impact of their behaviour on others.

Memory Deficits

Individuals with FASD may exhibit varying degrees of memory impairment. Short-term memory and long term recall can both be affected. Intermittent memory often causes inconsistencies in the retrieval of information from one day to the next.

ALARM chart