Kaitlyn McLachlan, Katelyn Mullally, Chantel Ritter, Mansfield Mela & Jacqueline Pei (2020) Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and Neurodevelopmental Disorders: An International Practice Survey of Forensic Mental Health Clinicians, International Journal of Forensic Mental Health, DOI: 10.1080/14999013.2020.1852342
Individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol, are overrepresented in criminal justice settings and have complex, forensically relevant clinical needs.
This study surveyed 81 forensic clinicians recruited via international professional association listserv postings and social media about their assessment and intervention practices in providing services to clients with FASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs), along with their training experiences and needs in this area.
Results indicated that the majority of clinicians had forensic experience working with clients who had FASD and other NDDs, although most identified limited relevant training experiences, gaps in their readiness for service provision, and practice barriers in effectively working with these populations. Clinicians also reported seeing fewer clients with FASD relative to other NDDs, and feeling less prepared for forensic practice with this population. Most clinicians endorsed the need for additional training and supports to increase their competency and enhance their practice, such as the development of screening tools, clinical guidelines, and access to experts or specialists for consultation.
As awareness about FASD continues to grow in legal contexts, additional research, training, and policy consideration is required to develop and implement evidence-based practice resources for forensic clinicians.