Research Based Intervention Strategies to Prevent Secondary Disabilities in

Individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

© 2008 Teresa Kellerman


Research by Linda Caley et all in 2006 identified strategies that are effectively implemented in the nursing profession to help children and adults with FASD avoid or minimize the serious secondary disabilities previously reported by Dr. Ann Streissguth in 1996.


The strategies reported in this research are identical to those many parents and FASD specialists have been recommending for years.  This report validates what we already have learned and know to be true: There are things we can do to help our children with FASD attain a better quality of life as they grow into adulthood.


Here are the recommended interventions delineated in the results of the study:  

·        Referral and Follow-up

o       Early intervention services

o       Alcohol treatment (for birth mothers)

o       Support groups and/or counseling

o       FASD specialist or interdisciplinary team

o       Services for developmental delays

o       Respite care

o       Other community services (welfare, crisis management, etc.)

·        Case Management

o       Financial assistance

o       Medical services

o       Educational services

o       Behavioral health services

o       Therapeautic services (physical, speech)

·        Screening

o       Health risk factors

o       Secondary disabilities risk factors

o       Substance abuse (by birth mother)

o       Possible FASD (in birth mothers and homeless individuals)

o       Developmental delays assessment for infants

·        Case-finding

o       Homeless shelters

o       Individuals with developmental delays, ADHD

o       Children in adoptive families and the foster care system

o       Children and teens with conduct disorder

·        Outreach

o       Community at large through puclic education

o       Target groups such as teens, homeless, women with alcohol problems

o       Medical professionals (Obstetrics and pediatrics)

·        Teaching strategies to parents raising children with FASD

o       How to provide a safe environment

o       Behavior management strategies

o       Growth and development

o       Promote parent-infant interaction

o       Sensory integration

o       How to build on the child's strengths build on the child's strengths

o       Understand FASD is brain damage

o       Realistic expectations

o       Changing lifestyle

o       Helping child maintain/regain control and self-calming

o       Coping with sleep disturbances

o       Accessing community resources

·        Counseling

o       Crisis management

o       Strengthen coping strategies

·        Consultation with experts and specialists

o       Interactive problem-solving

o       Referral for community services

·        Advocacy

o       Assist in finding information and services

o       Develop capacity for self-acvocacy

o       Seek services for pregnant women with alcohol problems

o       Eliminate the stigma of FASD

·        Policy Development and Enforcement

o       Place FASD on decision-makers’ agendas

o       Enforce existing laws, rules

o       Lobby for FASD education and services





Caley, Linda M.; Dunlap, Christine; Rivera, Sara; Shipkey, Nancy; Winkelman, Theresa.  “Evidence-Based Review of Nursing Interventions to Prevent Secondary Disabilities in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.”  Pediatric Nursing 2006;32(2):155-162. Posted 07/06/2006


Streissguth, A.P., Barr, H.M., Kogan, J. & Bookstein, F. L., "Understanding the Occurrence of Secondary Disabilities in Clients with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE)," Final Report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), August, 1996, Seattle: University of Washington, Fetal Alcohol & Drug Unit, Tech. Rep. No. 96-06, (1996).