Behavioral Regulation as a Predictor of Response to Children's Friendship Training in Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1759, USA.
The Clinical Neuropsychologist (Impact Factor: 1.72). 10/2008; 23(3):428-45. DOI: 10.1080/13854040802389177
Source: PubMed


Children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) evidence an array of structural brain abnormalities and neurocognitive deficits. Furthermore, previous research suggests that deficits in executive functioning (EF) may be associated with significant difficulties in the formation of positive peer relationships in this population. The purpose of the current study was to examine the role of EF as a predictor of treatment response to a controlled social skills intervention for children with FASDs. A total of 100 children between the ages of 6 and 12 received Children's Friendship Training (CFT). Prior to treatment, parents completed the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Functioning (BRIEF). Treatment outcome was measured using parent report on the Social Skills Rating System (SSRS). The results demonstrated that behavioral regulation as measured on the BRIEF predicted the effectiveness of CFT for children with FASDs, regardless of general intellectual functioning. Specifically, the ability to control impulses, solve problems flexibly, and monitor emotional responses significantly predicted improvement in social skills and reduction in problem behaviors following CFT.

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    • "The simpler social behavior and generation interval of rodents make them useful models for determining how social context influences the effects of developmental alcohol exposure (Kelly et al. 2009). Developing a better understanding of the specific effects from varying social interactions and from environmental enrichment may have important implications for the treatment of children with FASD who consistently are characterized as having poor social skills (Kelly et al. 2009; O’Connor et al. 2006; Schonfeld et al. 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: The question of whether children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) exhibit a unique neurocognitive profile has received considerable attention over the past three decades. The identification of a syndrome-specific neurocognitive profile would aid in diagnosing prenatally exposed children with cognitive deficits who do not exhibit clinically discernable physical anomalies. The current review of the literature, therefore, focuses on the studies of higher-order cognitive skills in children with FASDs with a view towards delineating a pattern of cognitive functioning. Researchers have documented that children with FASDs show diminished intellectual functioning, with average IQ scores falling within the borderline to low average ranges. Slow information processing and disturbances of attention have been observed from infancy through adulthood in individuals with FASDs. Clinical and experimental reports on individuals with FASD have documented marked deficits in executive functioning, particularly in tasks that involve holding and manipulating information in working memory. Studies examining specific domains of cognitive functioning such as language, visual perception, memory and learning, social functioning, and number processing in individuals with FASDs have revealed performance decrements associated with increased task complexity. The above findings converge on the conclusion that children with FASDs have a generalized deficit in the processing and integration of information. We recommend the study of developmental trajectories of both elementary and higher-order functions in future research on FASD to elucidate the development of this cognitive profile.
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