FASD & the Justice System

People with FASD are often aware of their deficits and develop strategies to mask them (e.g., “chatty” speaking patterns, tangential statements, use of large, often misused words). In some cases an individual with FASD may demonstrate good verbal skills which mask poor comprehension of the situation.  Conversely, if the accused experiences sensory overload he or she may shut down entirely or will turn to negative behaviours. 

An accused with FASD may:

  • not correctly interpret visual information
  • be able to read court documents, but not comprehend what they say (but will tell you they understand in order to not “look stupid”)
  • only hear every third or fourth word that is spoken in court
  • misinterpret lawyers/judges' non-verbal gestures
  • be easily led and manipulated during questioning
  • provide information that is off topic, inappropriate for the circumstances, or confusing.