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JFAS Int 2006;4:e12 - June 26, 2006
Ten Brain Domains: A Proposal for Functional Central Nervous System Parameters for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis and Follow-up


Significant progress has been made delineating criteria for diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). FASD has been researched by geneticists, psychologists, neurological medical professionals, and others, for the past 35 years. However, functional central nervous system (CNS) diagnostic parameters have not yet been adequately defined to address the life-long challenges facing people with this disability.

This presentation proposes specific brain domains, within central nervous system parameters, to be used as a framework for FASD evaluation, diagnosis and to derive intervention recommendations for clients and their families. The proposed brain domains are clearly defined, including behavior clues to be used as a way to identify potential clients for evaluation.

Functional CNS parameters as described in recent literature (by CDC, IOM, U of W, and Canadian) are compared with six years of experience of the Fetal Alcohol Diagnostic Program (FADP). FADP is a community-based, family-focused diagnostic program located in Duluth, Minnesota.

Ten specific brain domains are identified as critical to CNS diagnostic parameters for successful FASD identification and management. The ten brain domains include: achievement, adaptation, attention, cognition, executive functioning, language, memory, motor, sensory/soft neurological, and social communication. These brain domains are easily understandable by medical professionals, families, social service workers, educators etc. who are initially identifying those potential clients and/or working with them after FASD evaluation.

Incorporation of these ten brain domains into the national conversation about FASD diagnosis can de-mystify the referral, diagnosis, and follow-up procedures needed to adequately work with individuals with disabilities related to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

Key Words: fetal alcohol spectrum disorders diagnosis, brain domains, central nervous system parameters


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