February 16, 2018

PREVALENCE OF FASD IN YOUTH DETENTION POPULATION

A multidisciplinary study recently conducted among youth people in youth detention found a significant prevalence of Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), highlighting the vulnerability of young people, particularly Indigenous young people in the justice system. The study used a representative sample of young people sentenced in detention in Western Australia. A clinical assessment was conducted by a multidisciplinary team including a paediatrician, occupational therapist, speech pathologist, and provisional neuropsychologists with supervision including the use of interpreters where required, for each participant. The team prepared a report for each young person detailing the results of the assessment and recommendations for working with the young person including their strengths. The study found that the majority of young people with FASD had severe impairment in the academic (86%), attention (72%), executive functioning (78%) and/or language (69%) domains. Severe impairment in memory (56%), motor skills (50%) and cognition (36%) were also commonly found in the young people with FASD. These findings have significant implications in rehabilitation, therapeutic interventions and the youth justice system. Previous to this study there was an absence of data on the prevalence rates of FASD in the youth detention population in Australia.

You can view the study abstract here.