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Previous Projects: Intervention Strategies for Children with FASDs

This website is archived for historical purposes and is no longer being maintained or updated.

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CDC has been involved in FASD-related activities since 1991. Click on one of the following links to read more about specific projects.

Intervention Strategies for Children with FASDs

CDC-sponsored studies find that children with FASDs are at very high risk for developing secondary conditions such as difficulties in school, trouble with the law, substance abuse problems, and mental health problems. Currently, most interventions for children with FASDs are often non-specific, unsystematic, and/or lack scientific evaluation or validation.

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Grantees have worked together with CDC, through a collaborative effort, to identify, develop, and evaluate effective strategies for intervening with children with FASDs and their families. Through these interventions, researchers are trying to help children with FASDs develop to their full potential, prevent secondary conditions, and provide education and support to caregivers and families. These projects are now being implemented in community-based settings.

Funded Projects

Intervening with Children with FASDs Flyer

University of California—Los Angeles, California
Friendship training: Many children with FASDs have difficulty making friends, keeping friends, and engaging in social interaction with others. This type of training teaches a variety of skills, including how to interact with friends, how to enter a group of children already playing with each other, help with in-home play dates, and ways to avoid conflict and use negotiation skills. A research study called “Project Bruin Buddies” evaluated this type of training and found that it could significantly improve children’s social skills and decrease problem behaviors.

Marcus Autism Center—Atlanta, Georgia
Specialized math tutoring: Special teaching methods and materials can help improve math knowledge and skills in children with FASDs. A research study called “math interactive learning experience (MILE)” evaluated this type of training and found that it can greatly improve the person’s math skills.

Children’s Research Triangle—Chicago, Illinois
Executive functioning training: This type of training teaches behavioral awareness, self-control and improves executive functioning skills, such as memory, cause and effect, reasoning, planning, and problem solving. A research study evaluated this type of training and found that children had significant improvement in effective functioning skills.

University of Oklahoma Health Services Center—Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Parent-child interaction therapy: This type of therapy is intended to improve parent-child relationships, create a positive discipline program, and reduce behavior problems in children with FASDs. Parents learn new skills from a coach. A research study found significant overall improvement in parent distress and fewer child behavior problems.

University of Washington—Seattle, Washington
Children with FASDs can have a variety of behavior and learning problems which can lead to high levels of stress for the children’s parents. This training is designed to improve caregiver comfort, meet family needs, and reduce child problem behaviors. A research study called “Families Moving Forward” found that this model can have a positive effect on parenting and can reduce child disruptive behaviors.

For more information, visit our Treatments web page »

Related Articles

These scientific articles are from 2005 to present.

Alcohol intervention for adolescents with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: Project Step Up, a treatment development study
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 2016; DOI: 10.1111/acer.13111. Epub 2016 May 24
O’Connor MJ, Quattlebaum J, Castañeda M, Dipple KM
[Read Summary]

Community translation of the Math Interactive Learning Experience Program for children with FASD
Research in Developmental Disabilities, (2015); 1–11
Kable JA, Taddeo E, Strickland D, Coles CD
[Read Summary]

Higher functioning children with prenatal alcohol exposure: Is there a specific neurocognitive profile?
Child Neuropsychology: A Journal on Normal and Abnormal Development in Childhood and Adolescence; 2013; 19(6):561-578
Quattlebaum JL, O’Connor MJ
[Read Summary]

Comparing the effectiveness of on-line versus in-person caregiver education and training for behavioral regulation in families of children with FASD
International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction; 2012; doi: 10.1007/s11469-012-9376-3
Kable JA, Coles CD, Strickland D, Taddeo E
[Read Summary]

Translation of an evidence-based social skills intervention for children with prenatal alcohol exposure in a community mental health setting
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research; January 2012;36(1):141-152
O’Connor MJ, Laugeson EA, Mogil C, Lowe E, Welch-Torres K, Keil V, Paley B
[ Read Summary]

Neurodevelopmental Functioning in Children with FAS, pFAS, and ARND
Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics; April 2010; 31(3):192-201
Chasnoff IJ, Wells AM, Telford E, Schmidt C, Messer G
[Read Summary]

“Family Matters:” Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and the Family
Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews; 2009;15:235″“249
Olson HC, Oti R, Gelo J, Beck S
[Read Summary]

Interventions for Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs): Overview of Findings for Five Innovative Research Projects
Research in Developmental Disabilities; Sep-Oct 2009; 30(5):986-1006
Bertrand J on behalf of the Interventions for Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Research Consortium
[Read Summary]

Socio-Cognitive Habilitation Using the Math Interactive Learning Experience Program for Alcohol-Affected Children
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research; August 2007; 31(8):1425-1434
Kable JA, Coles CD, Taddeo E.
[Read abstract]

Stimulants, Neuroleptics, and Children’s Friendship Training for Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology; 2006;16(6):777-789
Frankel F, Paley B, Marquardt R, O’Connor M..
[Read Summary]

A Controlled Social Skills Training for Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology; 2006; 74(4):639-648
O’Connor MJ, Frankel F, Paley B, Schonfeld AM, Carpenter E, Laugeson EA, Marquardt R.
[Read Summary]

The Relationship of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and the Postnatal Environment to Child Depressing Symptoms
Journal of Pediatric Psychology; 2006; 31(1):50-64
O’Connor MJ, Paley B.
[Read Summary]

Executive Functioning Predicts Social Skills Following Prenatal Alcohol Exposure
Child Neuropsychology; 2006;12(6):439-452
Schonfeld AM, Paley B, Frankel F, O’Connor MJ.
[Read Summary]

Predictors of Stress in Parents of Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics; 2006; 27(5):396-404
Paley B, O’Connor MJ, Frankel F, Marquardt R.
[Read summary]

Prenatal Alcohol Exposure, Child Externalizing Behavior, and Maternal Stress
Parenting Science and Practice; 2005; 3(1):29-56
Paley B, O’Connor MJ, Kogan N, Findlay R.
[No article summary available]

Interventions for Youth and Young Adults With Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Research has found that people with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are at increased risk for Secondary Conditions . These are serious, lifelong, negative outcomes starting during late adolescence or young adulthood. Some of the more serious secondary conditions associated with FASDs include having mental health problems, alcohol and drug problems, and disrupted school experiences; getting in trouble with the law; engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior; and failing to achieve independent living.

Research has shown that intervention treatment services can improve the outlook for those with FASDs, including youth and young adults. Previous research has focused on development of interventions specifically targeting children with FASDs. However, additional research is needed to develop evidence-based interventions and treatments for older youth and young adults and their families. In 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded two research projects to develop interventions for youth and young adults (16 through 25 years of age) with FASDs.

Funded Projects

Project Step Up — University of California, Los Angeles

This study will adapt an evidence-based and effective intervention to reduce alcohol consumption and negative alcohol-related outcomes specifically among adolescents (16 through 18 years of age) with FASDs. The intervention uses a group format. Groups will meet once a week for a 60-minute session for 6 weeks.

The intervention includes:

  • Using motivational enhancement techniques.
  • Reviewing participant drinking habits.
  • Providing feedback on participants alcohol use and how it compares with use by other youth.
  • Improving participants coping skills.
  • Conducting parent training sessions to empower caregivers to assist their teens in resisting alcohol use.

It is expected that Project Step Up will provide an effective and cost-efficient model for the prevention of alcohol misuse and related negative consequences for adolescents with FASDs.

Partners for Success — Saint Louis University

This project aims to reduce maladaptive behaviors among adolescents and young adults (16 through 25 years of age) with FASDs. This therapy is anticipated to reduce these behaviors for participating youth with FASDs, reduce stress among their families, and improve the quality of life for all participants.
The intervention uses a team of clinicians, therapists, and mentors to:

  • Engage each family in family therapy during a 12-month period (in biweekly sessions) to address their unique needs.
  • Provide life coaching to youth and young adults with FASDs during a 12-month period (in biweekly sessions).

It is expected that Partners for Success will provide an evidence-based intervention to increase parenting skills and reduce the occurrence and severity of maladaptive behaviors for youth and young adults with FASDs and improve the quality of life for them and their families.