Inter-professional practice for children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and their families

Miss Kelly Skorka1, Dr Catherine McBryde1, Associate Professor Jodie Copley1, Professor Pamela J. Meredith2, Dr Natasha Reid3

1The University Of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia, 2Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Australia, 3Centre for Children’s Health Research, South Brisbane, Australia

Children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) experience challenges in many neurodevelopmental domains and often require therapy from multiple health professionals. Current diagnostic guidelines recommend inter-professional assessments; however, this often does not translate to coordinated intervention services. Further, although the benefits of inter-professional services are well evidenced for families with complex needs, most evidenced-based interventions designed for these children involve only single disciplines. Our recent critical review revealed several barriers to coordinated care. First, limited knowledge of FASD among therapists impacts on clinicians’ ability to assist families in finding information and services. Second, the ways in which child-specific impairments challenge children’s participation in daily activities is unclear. Third, there remains a focus in the literature on child deficits, with little consideration of children’s personal assets and external resources, which impedes clinicians’ ability to deliver appropriate and strengths-based services. This presentation will: 1) provide an overview of the literature regarding the challenges experienced by children with FASD and the current interventions for this population; 2) highlight the need for inter-professional collaboration to support these families; and 3) discuss the need for an inter-professional framework incorporating a holistic, strengths-based approach to enhance the understanding of FASD among clinicians and support integrated services. The development of such a framework would enable practitioners to clarify their role in supporting children with FASD and their families, and support collaboration and coordinated care across services to improve daily functioning.


Kelly is an occupational therapist working clinically in paediatrics while also completing her PhD through the University of Queensland exploring the intervention needs of children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and their families. Kelly has interests in neurodevelopmental conditions and is passionate about supporting children to reach their fullest potential.

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