FASD & the Justice System

Increase in prevalence of secondary disabilities due to lack of diagnosis

FASD is characterized by both primary and secondary disabilities. But when undiagnosed, appropriate interventions in educational and social systems are limited or lacking. This would suggest an increase in associated FASD secondary disabilities. Trouble with the law has been identified in the FASD research literature as one of the common “secondary disabilities” exacerbated by lack of interventions at home and school and lack of early diagnosis. Indigenous people are overrepresented in Canada’s criminal justice system, and we note that both TRC Calls to Action regarding FASD were placed in the Justice section of the TRC’s 2015 report. As Indigenous people are over-represented in the criminal justice system, it is not surprising that there are many reported criminal cases involving Indigenous people affected with FASD.

Research on the incidence of secondary FASD disabilities in Indigenous communities is unavailable. Such data depends upon primary recognition and diagnosis, which continues to be a problem across Canada.