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Working with Children and Adolescents with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in Australia

Event number: 17548
6 CPD hours
Presenter(s): Vanessa Spiller, Santo Russo

Purpose: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are largely unrecognised and under-diagnosed in clinical practice and many professionals lack the confidence and knowledge to identify and work with those affected by this condition. This workshop aims to provide participants with an understanding of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and how these disorders present clinically in children and young people. The workshop will explore the diagnostic criteria for these disorders as well as the many challenges involved in diagnosing children and young people with these disorders. The workshop will also explore intervention options suitable for individuals with these disorders as well as the support needs of those who care for them.

About FASD: More common than Spina-Bifida, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome and ASD, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) are recognised as being the leading non-genetic cause of intellectual disability in children. However, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders don’t always result in intellectual impairment but rather produce a confusing and complex array of other behavioural, adaptive, mental health and physical health issues that are often poorly recognised and understood by parents and professionals alike. 94% of individuals with FASD have a co-morbid mental health condition and it is these conditions and/or interactions with the criminal justice system that often come to define many of these individuals, concealing their underlying brain injury and dysfunction and resulting in ineffective treatment paradigms. Fortunately, there are a variety of approaches such as the Neurobehavioral Approach and Collaborative and Proactive Solutions that may assist individuals with FASD and their families.

Learning outcomes

1.    Identify the prevalence of FASD in the national and international contexts

2.    Identify the diagnostic criteria for assessing FASD in Australia

3.    Identify common issues in diagnosing FASD

4.    Identify common presentations of FASD in children and young people

5.    Identify how FASD impacts on the lives and learning of children and young people

6.    Identify suitable interventions that can be used with children and young people with FASD

7.    Identify strategies for supporting carers of children and young people with FASD

About the presenter(s)

Dr Vanessa Spiller has been working as a psychologist and clinical psychologist since 1997. Working in child protection and family counselling for nearly a decade, she has extensive experience working with severely disadvantaged and often traumatised individuals, families and communities. Vanessa has worked with many children and families affected by prenatal alcohol exposure, many of who remain undiagnosed. She is currently working in private practice in Greenslopes, Qld as well as teaching into the clinical psychology program at ACU. She is an active member of multiple forums advocating for better diagnosis and services for individuals and the families affected by FASD. In her private life, she has also been a foster-carer for over 15 years and has extensive experience in managing day-to-day issues associated with FASD.

Santo Russo established Better Life Psychology in 1999 after a 25 year career focused on human development across the lifespan. Before becoming a psychologist he worked in early childhood development and education. Santo is the immediate past Chair of the College of Educational and Developmental Psychologists in Queensland and current Chair of the 2017 CEDP Conference Organising Committee. He is a Fellow of the APS and Chair of the Board of External Senior School Pty Ltd. Santo became a member of the National FASD Clinician’s Network in 2014. As a Member of the Australian Commission of Quality and Safety in Health Care – Primary Practice Committee Santo has a breadth of knowledge of current issues in Health and Education.

Online registration

South Brisbane

Rydges South Bank
9 Glenelg St
South Brisbane , QLD 4101
Venue is wheelchair accessible
Start date: 3/7/2017
End date: 3/7/2017
Time: 9am-4.30pm


APS member: $150
APS student member: $130
Non APS member: $250


APS - Brisbane Area Branch
Contact Steph Beckey
0419 785 610