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Doig, J. L., Mclennan, J. D., & Urichuk, L. (2009). ‘Jumping through hoops’: Parents’ experiences with seeking respite care for children with special needs. Child: Care, Health and Development, 35(2), 234-242.

Background: Respite care may act as a means to reduce stress and fatigue in people caring for a dependent who has a disability. Despite this, a variety of barriers may exist to obtaining such services. This study explored caregivers’ experiences seeking respite care for their children with special needs within a province in Canada. Methods: Caregivers were recruited from two agencies providing respite care for children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and other mental health and developmental difficulties. In total, 10 caregivers participated in in-depth individual interviews. A constructivist grounded theory approach was employed in the design and analysis of the data. Results: Caregivers discussed their frustrations with the process of finding and obtaining respite care, a course of action described as ‘jumping through hoops’. This construct was composed of subcategories emphasizing the complexity of ‘navigating the system’, the bidirectional process of ‘meeting the requirements’and the challenges of ‘getting help’. Conclusions: The collective experiences of these caregivers point to the need for more flexibility and co-ordination of respite care services for children with special needs. © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Duquette, C., Stodel, E., Fullarton, S., & Hagglund, K. (2006). Persistence in high school: Experiences of adolescents and young adults with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 31(4), 219-231.

Background: This study examined persistence in high school among students with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) from the perspective of the adolescents themselves. Tinto’s (1975, 1997) Student Integration Model (SIM) provided the theoretical framework for the research. This model consists of three factors: background characteristics, academic integration, and social integration. Method: A collective case study method involving 8 adolescents with FASD from Canada and the United States was used. Results: Although the students did not meet the usual academic standards and had acquaintances rather than friends, they perceived themselves as academically and socially successful. It was shown that persistence occurred largely because of the strong support of, and advocacy by, the adoptive parents. Conclusions: Parental advocacy is an environmental factor that may protect adolescents with FASD from dropping out of high school.

Dybdahl, C. S., & Ryan, S. (2009). Inclusion for students with fetal alcohol syndrome: Classroom teachers talk about practice. Preventing School Failure, 53(3), 185-196.

The authors aimed to investigate the perceptions and experiences of regular education classroom teachers whose students included at least 1 child diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum (FAS) disorders. The authors collected data over a 3-year period in 3 school districts in the Pacific Northwest. Data included interviews with classroom teachers, notes from classroom observations, and medical and educational documents. The authors studied FAS inclusion, including descriptions of academic performance, behavioral patterns, and articulation of the strategies that classroom teachers used. The authors also identified problems associated with FAS inclusion in hopes that an increased understanding of these issues results in the improvement of educational experiences for other students with FAS and their teachers. (Contains 2 tables.)

Edmonds, K., & Crichton, S. (2008). Finding ways to teach to students with FASD: A research study. International Journal of Special Education, 23(1), 54-73.

This study examines a unique educational program designed for youth with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder [FASD] in Alberta, Canada. Care was taken to include the participants’ voice in this case study resulting in key insights and strategies for working with youth and/or students struggling with FASD. Using observation notes, survey and interview responses, and literature reviews, participants’ perceptions were used as a lens to describe characteristics, experiences and learning needs of this population. Studying their ability and how these participants struggled unfolded specific needs in the program. Additionally, in exploring the impact of the program on the participants’ learning, growth and progress, key strategies for teaching and learning were revealed. The appendix offers sample lesson plans and resources as used in this educational program. As a whole, this qualitative study offers those working in the field of FASD and learning disabilities insights and strategies from the perspective and feedback of the participants.

Educating health professionals about fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. (2007). American Journal of Health Education, 38(6), 364-373.

Prenatal exposure to alcohol is a leading preventable cause of birth defects and developmental disabilities. Individuals exposed to alcohol during fetal development can have physical, mental, behavioral, and learning disabilities, with lifelong implications. These conditions are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Health care professionals play a crucial role in identifying women at risk for an alcohol-exposed pregnancy and in identifying the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure among individuals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities has funded four universities as FASD Regional Training Centers (RTCs). The RTCs, in collaboration with the CDC and the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, are developing, implementing, and evaluating educational curricula for medical and allied health students and practitioners and seeking to have the curricula incorporated into training programs at each grantee’s university or college, into other schools throughout the region, and into the credentialing requirements of professional boards. This article highlights some of the innovative training approaches that the RTCs are implementing to increase knowledge regarding FASDs and the ability of health professionals to identify, treat, and prevent these conditions. (Contains 6 tables.)

Floyd, R. L., Sobell, M., Velasquez, M. M., Ingersoll, K., Nettleman, M., Sobell, L., Mullen, P. D., Ceperich, S., von Sternberg, K., Bolton, B., Skarpness, B., & Nagaraja, J. (2007). Preventing alcohol-exposed pregnancies. A randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 32(1), 1-10.

Background: Prenatal alcohol exposure is a leading preventable cause of birth defects and developmental disabilities in the United States. Design: A randomized controlled trial (2002-2005; data analyzed 2005-2006) of a brief motivational intervention to reduce the risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy (AEP) in preconceptional women by focusing on both risk drinking and ineffective contraception use. Setting/Participants: A total of 830 nonpregnant women, aged 18-44 years, and currently at risk for an AEP were recruited in six diverse settings in Florida, Texas, and Virginia. Combined settings had higher proportions of women at risk for AEP (12.5% overall) than in the general population (2%). Interventions: Participants were randomized to receive information plus a brief motivational intervention (n=416) or to receive information only (n=414). The brief motivational intervention consisted of four counseling sessions and one contraception consultation and services visit. Main Outcome Measures: Women consuming more than five drinks on any day or more than eight drinks per week on average, were considered risk drinkers; women who had intercourse without effective contraception were considered at risk of pregnancy. Reversing either or both risk conditions resulted in reduced risk of an AEP. Results: Across the follow-up period, the odds ratios (ORs) of being at reduced risk for AEP were twofold greater in the intervention group: 3 months, 2.31 (95% confidence interval [CI]=1.69-3.20); 6 months, 2.15 (CI=1.52-3.06); 9 months, 2.11 (CI=1.47-3.03). Between-groups differences by time phase were 18.0%, 17.0%, and 14. 8%, respectively. Conclusions: A brief motivational intervention can reduce the risk of an AEP. © 2007 American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Floyd, R. L., Weber, M. K., Denny, C., & O’Connor, M. J. (2009). Prevention of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 15(3), 193-199.

Alcohol use among women of childbearing age is a leading, preventable cause of birth defects and developmental disabilities in the United States. Although most women reduce their alcohol use upon pregnancy recognition, some women report drinking during pregnancy and others may continue to drink prior to realizing they are pregnant. These findings emphasize the need for effective prevention strategies for both pregnant and nonpregnant women who might be at risk for an alcohol-exposed pregnancy (AEP). This report reviews evidence supporting alcohol screening and brief intervention as an effective approach to reducing problem drinking and AEPs that can lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. In addition, this article highlights a recent report of the National Task Force on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Effect that describes effective interventions to reduce alcohol use and AEPs, and outlines recommendations on promoting and improving these strategies. Utilizing evidence-based alcohol screening tools and brief counseling for women at risk for an AEP and other effective population-based strategies can help achieve future alcohol-free pregnancies. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.