Early intervention after an unfair start in life: Fetal exposure to alcohol
Those of us who work with people who have lived through adverse childhood experiences are familiar with the importance of individualizing treatment. We can do a lot of harm if we don’t consider what someone went through in life, or if we assume that one child’s preferences and needs are similar to those of another person.
Of course, this series about trauma has emphasized that it is the responsibility of ANY behavior analyst to individualize treatment, to consider the history of a client before moving forward with treatment, and to treat more than the “local” functions of behavior. Unfortunately, it is easy to miss the importance of this component of assessment and treatment, especially for new behavior analysts who have gained their “hours” working with highly similar clients, working without supervisors experienced in a diverse clientele, of without any supervisor or instructor who appreciates experimental as well as applied behavior analysis. One of the ways we find out more, is to go to the literature. This may be easier said than done, and an example of successfully data mining for this topic is provided toward the end of the article.
Today’s discussion involves clients who have been affected by what’s known as “Fetal alcohol syndrome”, or exposure to alcohol in the womb.
This is more than adverse childhood experience, for it goes back further in development, perhaps even as early as the neural tube (which will give rise to the spinal cord) and other important structures were being formed. This kind of exposure can affect an individual for their entire lifetime.
So we can consider it an adverse experience, although it happened even earlier than what we think of as “childhood”, and it has long lasting consequences, altering the way someone will learn and interact for the rest of their life.
Can we treat behavior after this condition? Continue reading