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Social Development in Children with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

  • Samantha Parkinson (a1) and Sara McLean (a1)


Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) develop when unborn children are exposed to alcohol prenatally. As a result of this exposure, children with FASD exhibit a range of social, behavioural, cognitive and even physical deficits that can impede their life-long development. These deficits can be influenced by maltreatment and the instability resulting from being placed into out-of-home care, and/or multiple foster-care placement breakdowns. The aim of this article is to increase awareness amongst child welfare professionals of how prenatal alcohol exposure impacts on children's social development. Social deficits include problems with social cognition and social information processing, which result in issues in social problem solving, processing social cues, social judgement, and developing and maintaining relationships. These deficits leave children with a FASD vulnerable to victimisation, exploitation, peer pressure and, as a result, interaction with the criminal justice system. Deficits are life-long and become more pronounced with age, although early detection and intervention appears to improve social skills deficits. Such interventions need to be explored further as they could potentially mitigate some of these deficits by capitalising on the neuroplasticity of a child's developing brain and pave a more positive trajectory for these children's future.


Corresponding author

addresses for correspondence:Sara McLean, GPO Box 2471, Adelaide SA 5001, E-mail:


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Social Development in Children with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

  • Samantha Parkinson (a1) and Sara McLean (a1)


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