Assessment and Diagnosis


Why Get A Diagnosis? 

The Importance of Having an Assessment to Diagnosis FASD

Studies have shown that a diagnosis of pre-natal alcohol damage as soon as possible is key to preventing problems in adulthood.  However, this is true for all individuals exposed prenatally to alcohol, regardless of their age. Lack of understanding and inaccurate interpretation of problem behaviors leads to poor outcomes. Diagnosis is essential in preventing this.

When the person with FASD is understood; their abilities and strengths are recognized; the interventions are appropriate and effective; individuals affected by FASD can live happy, fulfilling lives.

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  • Allowing one to cope better, build self-esteem and live a fuller life
  • Can change how a persons learns
  • Provides intervention direction and guidance for the caregivers
  • Decreases the risk of additional challenges in life
  • Can be a turning point in repairing broken relationships
  • Facilitates building self advocacy skills
  • Impacts decision making at the criminal justice system
  • Reveals additional health related issues to be addressed such as cardiac or hearing problems
  •  A good assessment will help us shift the way we view people living with the challenges related to Prenatal Alcohol Exposure/FASD.

    Referral Process

    Who will the clinic serve?

    The Spec-Team Assessment Society is for adults (15 years of age and older) from the interior of British Columbia who are experiencing difficulties that are suspected to be a result from prenatal alcohol exposure. The Canadian Guidelines for Diagnosing FASD state that confirmation of prenatal alcohol exposure is not a requirement for the assessment to proceed.  However, if prenatal alcohol exposure cannot be confirmed, this will affect the diagnosis that can be given.


    All referrals must be made with the client’s consent, or the consent of the legal guardian.  An individual may self‐refer, or be referred by anyone who believes the assessment would be helpful for the individual. This includes: physicians, family members, support agencies, or the justice system. The person making the referral will be asked to complete a referral form with information about the individual.  Referrals will be pre-screened by the clinic coordinator to determine eligibility for the assessment.

    Cost of an Assessment

    At this time, the Province of BC does not cover the cost of an FASD Assessment. As a result, clients are expected to cover the cost.  In some cases,  clients are able to access other agencies or health support bodies for financial support. Assessments are usually $5500 – $6000. depending on the amount of time the assessment team needs to invest in the assessments they complete. Assessments are able to be completed within two months of receiving a referral forms. Clients are charged extra if assessment appointments are missed.  

    Referrals can also be made by calling the Clinic Coordinator, Bernadette O’Donnell directly at 250 938 5022 or through email:  We will help explore options for financing the assessemnt.

    The Assessment Process

    Our Assessment Team works closely with clients and their support person(s).  The client will be need to have a support person who can commit to helping them through the entire assessment process. This person will be expected to provide information (with the client’s consent), help explain the process to the client, and provide general support, including ensuring that the client attends appointments, eats well and gets enough sleep before assessments.  The support person will also help the client to use the recommendations that result from the assessment team’s report.

    What is Involved in an Assessment?

    Assessments are conducted by a multi-disciplinary team which meets Canadian Clinical Guidelines for Diagnosis.

    With the client’s permission, the Assessment Team will access, relevant educational, medical, child welfare and justice records to learn about the clients past challenges. It sometimes takes several weeks to receive the documents.  When all of the records and required documentation are received, the support person will be contacted to schedule the assessment appointments.  

    The Diagnostic Assessment includes:

    • An Educational Consultant who researches academic and literacy skills
    • a Medical Doctor to assess physical and mental health issues
    • a neuro-psychologist to assess processing skills, cognitive skills and memory, and adaptive functioning
    • an Occupational Therapist to assess life skills and skills needed for occupations.
    • A social worker to facilitates a self assessment of skills that lead to goals addressing homelessness, addictions, independent living and emotional control.

    These appointments will take approximately 10 hours and occur over 3-5 days.

    The assessment team meets as a group and discuss the results of all their assessments and make a diagnosis. They prepare a report of all the results of their work and provide a significant number of recommendations.  

    After the assessment:

    With the client’s permission, the report is shared with professionals that the client provides permission to receive the report. Recommendations that that address: medical, vocational, employment, psycho-social and strength based living are shared with the client and their support person.

    When the community support team is organized, an interactive sharing of the recommendations is made to the whole group so that all team members have the most current and accurate information on how to support the client moving forward.

    The Clinic Coordinator will be available for follow‐up meetings around case planning, or to answer any questions the client or family members may have about his/her diagnosis, and to provide ideas, strategies, or access to resources that might be helpful to the client and his/her supports.

    From start to finish, the entire assessment process usually takes approximately 2-3 months.     

    The client is encouraged to participate in the Action Hall Support Group after the diagnostic process is completed. There is no cost to participate in this.