Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

There is no one size fits all diagnosis when it comes to a substance exposed child.  Here are some basic questions and their answers. Keep in mind, your mileage may vary.  We try to keep things as generic as possible.

What exactly does “substance exposed newborn” mean?

A substance exposed newborn is any newborn that was born drug or alcohol exposed. Doesn’t matter the drug or how much alcohol. Everything that mom puts in her body is also affecting the baby. Prescription drugs serve a purpose and are done under the direction of a medical professional, so while they affect the baby, and can cause similar traits to illicit drugs in a newborn, they generally aren’t applied in this case.  It depends on the medication. 


When should a child be diagnosed?

As early as possible. However, in some cases, like if a child is adopted, that may not be possible until they are older. The earlier a diagnosis can be obtained the more time you have to work on services and supports for your child.

My child was diagnosed with Autism, ADHD, or this other diagnosis, how do I know it’s not FASD or something related to them being substance exposed prior to birth?

The easiest way is to access prenatal records or drug panels that were completed when the child was born.  With FASD, there are some extensive screenings that can be done.  We can recommend a specialist, but you will have to travel to Grand Forks for the appointment.  The appointment itself is available at no cost currently.  Reach out to us to learn how to get an appointment.

Will my child ever live a normal life?

Define normal.

Your child will live the life they were destined for. Services and supports will help them live as successfully as possible in the community most compatible with their needs. We strive to ensure that the community is not a facility or care center, however, there are times when that level of care is necessary.

Can you help me with my child’s school? They just don’t understand him/her…

With proper releases we can attend your child’s Individual Education Plan meetings along side you. We can also help by discussing the right people to add to the team.  Your child has rights. You also have rights.


My child is sometimes (or often) violent. Any tips on how I can cope or how I can get him/her to be less violent?

We view these events as symptoms.  These are the questions we would ask you:

  1. Is everyone safe?
  2. Is the child in a rage currently?
  3. How often does the child rage?
  4. What can you tell us about the days prior to this latest event?
  5. Does the child rage at school?
  6. Do you have deescalation techniques that have worked in the past?
  7. Do you have a safety plan?