An Innovative Look at Early Intervention for Children Affected by Prenatal Alcohol Exposure
Pp. 64-107 (44)
Heather Carmichael Olson, Rachel A. Montague
Early intervention is vital for children born affected by prenatal alcohol exposure, and may take advantage of ‘ plasticity’ in the developing brain. Early diagnosis is associated with more positive life outcomes among those with FASD. Early intervention leads to better child and family outcomes in populations with similar challenges and, in initial research, to improved outcomes among those with prenatal alcohol exposure. This chapter begins with a ‘ neurodevelopmental viewpoint,’ central to thinking about early intervention with this population. This viewpoint emphasizes ‘ brain-based difficulties’ arising from alcohol's teratogenic effects, and the need to reduce risks and increase protective factors. Current research on child and family strengths and deficits, and the necessary step of early identification, are reviewed. Treatment recommendations from expert professional opinion and the collective family wisdom, and findings from the few studies of early intervention in this population, are provided. To spark research progress in the field, a variety of promising existing early interventions are discussed, including ideas for needed adaptations. Links are provided to websites, parent support information, training topics for early intervention providers, and new data on behavior regulation in young children with FASD. Early intervention is an exciting research direction for the field of FASD.