Referral and coordination agency for the Anchorage Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Diagnostic Team

Diagnostic Team Roles

All of the members of the FASD Diagnostic Team have completed the University of Washington training for the diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders as required by the State of Alaska Department of Behavioral Health Services. A diagnosis decision is made after all members of the team have completed their testing and discussed their findings together.

The testing done by any of the professionals above may be draining. It is helpful to go to the appointments after being well rested and well fed. If you wish, check to see if a water bottle is allowed during the testing and bring one to the appointment.

Medical Provider / Nurse Practitioner

A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse (RN) that has received additional education and training to perform diagnosis and treatment. You will be seen at their office, or in some cases, they may come to your home. They review the medical and FASD intake records and will have a lot of questions about current and past mental and physical health. This is an opportunity to share any concerns about the body including sleep habits, appetite, concerning behaviors, etc. A full or limited physical exam will be done, depending on what type of recent medical care has been done, and current concerns. The provider will check vital signs, height and weight, head circumference, and will take a couple of facial photographs that will be analyzed using the University of Washington Facial Photo Analysis software. They are not intended to be your primary care provider but will refer you for additional care if they find something that needs follow up after your exam.

Occupational Therapist

The occupational therapist is a health provider that is trained to evaluate a variety of areas such as fine motor, range of motion, sensory processing, oral motor, visual motor, visual perception, and general self help skills in the context of home, leisure activities, and school or work. As members of this team they assess brain functions for information processing, memory, planning, attention, judgment, and other executive functions. Their testing allows them to see where theĀ individuals' skills differ from others their age. After they gather this information, they can suggest the use of tools such as adaptive equipment, splinting or other items that help to manipulate the environment in order to foster greater success and Independence.

Parent Navigator

A Parent Navigator is an advocate for families that has extensive knowledge about the service systems that provide supports to children, youth and adults with special needs. Quite often they are also parents of children with special needs and have firsthand experience with "navigating the system." They are able to help individuals and families learn about resources that may be helpful, can assist with filling out eligibility and other paperwork, and will provide emotional support and recommend resource materials that may be useful in understanding the unique needs of the child or individual. Parent Navigators may also be available to provide more formal disability-related training to family members and service providers.

Physical Therapist

The physical therapist is a health provider that is trained to assess and assist your child with developing gross motor skills, strength, range of motion, coordination, and balance skills. They look at the child's ability to use their muscles to complete activities such as running, jumping, and coordinating their arms and legs at the same time. As members of this team, they check how the brain functions with coordination, balance, and the ability to pay attention. These are things that can often be affected by prenatal alcohol exposure. Not everyone needs to be seen by the physical therapist. The team and coordinator will decide if this testing is needed.

Psychologist or Neuropsychologist

The psychologist or neuropsychologist is a mental health clinician that has received training and education to conduct an evaluation, make a diagnosis, and recommend treatment. As members of this team, they check brain function (which is a part of the body that we often see injured from prenatal alcohol exposure.) They do a battery or group of tests that can take several hours to complete and that include tests, questionnaires, and/or surveys for memory, planning abilities, attention, life skills, academic achievement, cognitive (intelligence quotient or \"IQ\" testing) and other areas that may have been impacted by the alcohol. They often need someone to come to the testing appointment who can answer questions about the person being seen on the survey instruments they use for testing. It is helpful for them to have many perspectives about how someone functions. Your testing appointment(s) may need to happen on more than one day.

Speech Language Pathologist

The speech language pathologist (SLP) does testing to see how effectively an individual communicates. The evaluation takes about two hours, although it may be a bit shorter or longer depending on what information is already available. In some cases, it may require more than one session. The SLP will explore: intelligibility, or how clear the speech is; understanding and use of words (semantics) and sentences (grammar); general understanding and expression; and pragmatic language, or use of language for social situations. An SLP may screen older children or adults for auditory processing (how your brain interprets sounds). The testing will include many questions and directions. It is OK to ask the SLP some questions about the evaluation before the testing begins.

Some suggestions:
  • How many tests will there be?
  • Will there be time for short breaks?
  • When and how will the results be delivered?

You may want to ask the SLP what each test will tell. Many people feel that the questions and tests are very interesting. After the testing, the SLP will make recommendations designed to further assess or to improve communication skills if indicated.