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Toward a Strengths-Based Cognitive Profile of Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Implications for Intervention

Abstract

Background

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is characterized by a complex profile of cognitive and behavioural impairments. Although understanding impairment guides diagnosis, little attention has been devoted to considering areas of intact functioning and strengths.

Method

This review focused on identifying areas of typical performance and/or relative strength in the FASD cognitive profile literature (up to November 2019), specifically the domains of intelligence, executive function, learning and memory.

Results

There is considerable variability in the FASD cognitive profile. Unequivocal areas of strength were not identified. However, we noted several FASD group trends, including stronger nonverbal reasoning, learning, and memory abilities than verbal abilities; better performance on verbal learning and memory tasks that embed strategies; and better performance on less cognitively demanding tasks.

Conclusions

Identifying areas of relative strength provides promising avenues for intervention. Future research should explore areas of intact functioning and relative strength among children with FASD more explicitly, alongside areas of difficulty.

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Funding

This work was supported by the Canada Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Research Network.

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Correspondence to Katrina Kully-Martens.

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Kully-Martens, K., McNeil, A., Pei, J. et al. Toward a Strengths-Based Cognitive Profile of Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Implications for Intervention. Curr Dev Disord Rep 9, 53–62 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40474-022-00245-5

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Keywords

  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
  • Cognitive profile
  • Strengths
  • Executive function