Adolescents with FASD: Education-Based Strategies for Social Skills Development

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a permanent neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by physical, mental, and learning disabilities. Despite variability, individuals with FASD consistently struggle with acquiring appropriate social skills. Limited research has explored educational strategies that facilitate or hinder the development of social skills acquisition.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether secondary schools have or plan to implement social skills training programs, and whether or not they are effectively targeting areas of vulnerability. In addition, the study hoped to produce recommendations for forming a successful social skills program.

Nine semi-structured interviews were conducted with caregivers and service providers to identify common themes. Five themes emerged that outline key components of a successful social skills program, which addresses current weaknesses and builds upon current knowledge: Becoming FASD informed, holistic consultation, engaging the zone of proximal development, incorporating dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) skills, and building a sense of belonging.

These themes are discussed in relation to the social challenges faced by individuals with FASD, current gaps within educational programs, and future directions for constructing a formal social skills program.

Samantha Louise Wiendels The University of Western Ontario

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Click here to download full report.

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