This site introduces the neurobehavioural difficulties that may appear throughout the lifespan of individuals with FASD. It is important to recognize that, being a spectrum disorder, FASD can look different for different individuals. Not all individuals with FASD will experience all of the issues presented here. However, this site summarizes the common neurobehavioural features of FASD found in current research. The problems presented on this site are not necessarily gender-specific.
Executive functioning is an umbrella term used to describe many cognitive skills involved in goal oriented behaviour. It includes mental processes that require controlling of thought processes, usually in order to problem solve and achieve a goal as efficiently as possible. Executive functions are a prominent area of difficulty for people with FASD.
People with FASD may have problems in these areas of executive functioning:
- Planning (“What do I do first, second third…”)
- Problem solving (“What are my options? Which is best?)
- Monitoring their own thought processes (“I think I did that wrong? I should not say that out loud.”)
- Cognitive Flexibility (“This requires subtraction, this one addition.” “Stir the pot on the stove, and then turn the kitchen tap off … then back to the stove.”)
- Rapidly producing responses(“nonverbal and verbal fluency” Keeping up with a conversation)
- Stopping themselves from providing particular responses in a given situation (Applying a “brain brake pedal”)
- Working Memory
- Use of feedback (“I heard it, and I remember it, but I don’t know how to act on it”)
Executive function problems increase as a task becomes more complex and more abstract. This means it has more components involved and is less applied (You can’t see it or work with it).
Much of this “higher level” thinking or abstract thinking develops in late childhood in typically developing children. But other aspects of executive function continue to develop into adolescence and adulthood. These developments are delayed and/or lacking in individuals with FASD. Executive functioning problems may become more pronounced in adolescence and adulthood as expectations for independence grow.