FASD Resources Available
For Juvenile Justice Professionals
By Kristin Blank
Youth with fetal alcohol spectrum
disorders (FASD) are at high risk
of getting into trouble with the law,
according to the FASD
Center for Excellence, funded by SAMHSA's
Center for Substance Abuse Prevention.
To help, SAMHSA recently released
a new training toolkit—Tools
for Success Curriculum: Working with
Youth with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum
Disorders (FASD) in the Juvenile Justice
System. The toolkit is designed
for a variety of professionals, including
advocates, attorneys, social workers,
probation officers, and health and
social service providers.
Developed jointly by the SAMHSA FASD
Center for Excellence and the Minnesota
Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome,
the curriculum’s goal is to
help professionals in the juvenile
justice system identify youth who
may have FASD and deliver effective
Tools for Success is a straightforward
curriculum, with timelines and talking
points provided for each module. A
team of two professionals, one from
the field of FASD and one from the
juvenile justice field, should lead
the course, modeling important cross-system
Youth with FASD face many challenges
that make them vulnerable to criminal
activity. They can be easily influenced
by peer pressure, can lack impulse
control, and may not understand cause
and effect or learn from mistakes.
According to the toolkit, 60 percent
of people with FASD age 12 and older
face legal troubles. These youth often
cycle through the juvenile justice
system with no recognition of their
disabilities, since many people do
not display physical abnormalities.
Instead, the disorders are displayed
in behaviors that can be misinterpreted
easily. For instance, youth with FASD
can appear uncooperative because they
are confused. They often are unaware
of social expectations or cues, and
police may think them belligerent.
In addition, these youth often are
desperate to make friends, making
them vulnerable for use as scapegoats.
Generally, they tell people what they
want to hear, possibly leading to
false confessions. Because they usually
cannot grasp broad concepts, youth
with FASD may not understand their
What’s in the Toolkit
The comprehensive Tools
for Success curriculum helps professionals in
the juvenile justice system steer
these youth toward a healthy, productive
Facilitator’s Manual. The two-volume
manual contains outlines of the seven
modules that range 1.5 to 3 hours
in length, pre- and posttests, PowerPoint
slides, a CD-ROM of all course materials,
group activities, and discussion questions.
1 is an overview of the characteristics,
daily challenges, and financial
costs of FASD.
Module 2 focuses on
the prevalence of disabilities
in the justice system and reviews
characteristics that put youth at
risk for legal trouble.
3 focuses on what happens after
the first contact with the juvenile
justice system, alternatives to
formal court, screening and assessment,
and competency evaluations.
4 gives insights into awareness,
advocacy, community treatment interventions,
Module 5 describes effective
education services and
behavior management strategies.
6 explains how transition and
aftercare issues are vital to a
success, with emphasis on employment.
7 discusses finding resources for
parents and professionals and addresses
building community support systems.
Guide for Parents
and Caregivers. This
handout informs parents about FASD,
children’s rights in the juvenile
justice system, effective advocacy
strategies, and suggestions for interventions.
Tools for Success is available
free of charge from SAMHSA’s
Health Information Network at 1-877-SAMHSA-7
(1-877-726-4727) or 1-800-487-4889
(TDD). Request inventory number SMA07-4291.
For a free PDF copy, visit http://download.ncadi.samhsa.gov/
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