Adults with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: Factors Associated with Positive Outcomes and Contact with the Criminal Justice System

J Popul Ther Clin Pharmacol. 2016;23(1):e37-52. Epub 2016 Mar 9.


Background: Adults with FASD are at increased risk for contact with the criminal justice system (CJS). To date, there has been limited research devoted to development of supports for adults with FASD and it is unclear what supports are required to improve outcomes and reduce CJS contact.

Objectives: To examine the services and supports experienced by a small group of adults with FASD living in both rural and urban locations in Ontario, and their contact with the CJS.

Methods: A sample of 14 individuals with FASD and 11 support persons participated in the study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and coded according to key themes which were qualitatively analysed using quotations that supported each key theme. A reliability analysis was conducted for the interview coding.

Results: Early diagnosis and lower substance use were found to be factors associated with reduced contact with the CJS. Participants reported on: knowledge of their diagnosis and caregiver training and education about FASD; interdependence; routine, structure, and supervision; evidence of a strength-based approach; effective communication; and collaborative services. Few participants had received training and education around FASD and further research is needed to determine the training required for more successful interventions and outcomes.

Conclusion: As has been found previously, early diagnosis of FASD is associated with more positive outcomes including reduced amount of contact with the CJS. It is likely that early diagnosis leads to the receipt of more supports throughout childhood and contributes to a better understanding of FASD by family and caregivers.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Criminal Behavior*
  • Criminal Law* / trends
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / epidemiology
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Random Allocation
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult