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Competency 3: Treatment Strategies for Working with Clients with an FASD


Woman with her head in her hands

Adults with an FASD often experience multiple risk factors in multiple domains. Risk factors include inability to find and maintain employment, difficulty in obtaining a stable living environment, persistent conflict with family members, and bonding difficulties in interpersonal relationships. If areas of risk are not buffered by protective factors, people with an FASD will be at risk for alcohol and drug  problems, and many will need treatment. Streissguth and colleagues conducted a study1 in which 21 percent of those with fetal alcohol syndrome had substance abuse problems and 32 percent of those with other fetal alcohol spectrum disorders had substance abuse problems.

Treating adults with an FASD is extremely complex and little has been written about it.1  However, promising strategies that have been proposed for working with clients with an FASD reflect some of the successful approaches used in advocacy programs, including mentoring and family involvement. Persons with an FASD seem to respond well to mentoring, one-on-one relationships where they feel a personal bond with a person who acts as an advocate.

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