Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Misdiagnosed As Autism: Understanding The Differences

Pin on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder


Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and autism are two conditions that can affect children’s development. However, sometimes FAS can be misdiagnosed as autism, leading to incorrect treatment and support. In this article, we will explore the differences between FAS and autism and the consequences of misdiagnosis.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal alcohol syndrome is a condition caused by exposure to alcohol during pregnancy. It can lead to physical, cognitive, and behavioral problems in the child. Children with FAS can have distinctive facial features, such as small eyes and a thin upper lip. They may also have growth problems, such as low birth weight and short stature.


Autism, on the other hand, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects social communication, behavior, and sensory processing. Children with autism may have difficulty with social interactions, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors. They may also have sensory sensitivities, such as being overwhelmed by loud noises or certain textures.


Sometimes, FAS can be misdiagnosed as autism because the two conditions share some similarities. Children with FAS may also have difficulty with social interactions and communication, as well as behavioral problems. However, the underlying causes of these issues are different. FAS is caused by prenatal alcohol exposure, while autism is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Consequences of Misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosis can have serious consequences for children with FAS. They may not receive the appropriate treatment and support for their specific needs, which can lead to further developmental delays and behavioral problems. It can also impact their future educational and occupational opportunities. It is crucial to identify FAS early and provide appropriate interventions.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing FAS involves a physical examination, medical history, and evaluation of developmental and behavioral issues. Treatment may involve early intervention services, such as speech and occupational therapy, and special education programs. It is also important to provide families with support and education on how to care for children with FAS.


The best way to prevent FAS is to avoid alcohol during pregnancy. Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should not drink alcohol. If you have a problem with alcohol, seek help before becoming pregnant. It is also important to educate others about the risks of alcohol use during pregnancy.


Fetal alcohol syndrome and autism are two distinct conditions that can affect children’s development. While they share some similarities, it is important to understand the differences between them to avoid misdiagnosis. If you suspect that your child may have FAS, seek evaluation and support from healthcare professionals. Remember, prevention is key when it comes to FAS.