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Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) 101 – SPA 5

What is FASD?

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) is a range of lifelong neurodevelopmental disorders resulting from maternal drinking during pregnancy. While Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is the most widely recognized condition, with its distinct facial characteristics, FASD is an umbrella term that encompasses the full continuum of neurobehavioral effects that can arise from prenatal alcohol exposure. Many children in the foster care system are at very high risk of having FASD’s, often referred to as the “invisible disability” and can present with complex patterns of behavioral and developmental difficulties that are too often incorrectly labeled and inappropriately treated. Effects can include deficits in cognition, attention, executive function, memory/learning, sensory processing, and motor skills. As children with FASD grow older, these learning deficits can contribute to impairments in social skills and judgment, adaptive function, and behavior problems, including symptoms of hyperactivity and conduct problems. Not all individuals with FASD show these difficulties, however, many are at increased risk for secondary disabilities as they mature (e.g., school and legal problems, psychiatric disorders). Early identification and intervention, along with ongoing supportive treatment, are crucial to help improve functioning and decrease likelihood of secondary disabilities.


  • Identify what to look for, how to recognize, and how to proceed in referring a child for a FASD medical screening and/or diagnosis.
  • Name at least three different areas of the brain that are impacted by prenatal alcohol exposure and how this contributes to neurodevelopmental delays and neurobehavioral issues (primary disabilities).
  • Understand how primary disabilities, if not recognized and properly addressed, can lead to an increase in secondary disabilities (e.g., negative life outcomes).
  • Learn about effective interventions and treatment approaches that have been successful with families and children with FASD.
  • Describe other systems of support that can be helpful in maximizing the potential of individuals with FASD.


Michele Walker-Bauer, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and Program Manager for the FASD Intervention Program at the VIP Community Mental Health Center. Since 2006, Michele has worked with families and children with FASD conducting psychological assessments and providing collateral, family, and group treatment. Currently, she provides supervision to VIP clinicians trained in the “Families Moving Forward Program.” In the near future, she hopes to expand services within the VIP FASD program to provide additional support to families with infants and toddlers, as well as teens with FASDs.

Ana C. Cardenas Rolon, LCSW is the FASD Program Clinical Supervisor at the VIP Community Mental Health Center. She has a B.A. in Sociology from
University of California, Berkeley and a Master’s in Social work from New York University. Since 2012 she has been working with children who have been diagnosed with FASD, providing bilingual individual, family, collateral, and group therapy. In addition to being an FASD specialist, Ana is also trained in Infant Mental Health Services, School-Based Mental Health Services, Evidence-Based Practices in The Incredible Years Parent and Child, Managing and Adapting Practice, Child Parent Psychotherapy, Seeking Safety, Crisis Oriented Recovery Services, Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and community outreach.

Wednesday, MARCH 4, 2020 at Vista Del Mar – 3200 Motor Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90034


  • 9am to 10:30am – What is FASD? Terms; prevalence; diagnostic criteria; areas of brain damage; primary disabilities; secondary disabilities; how to obtain information to make referral for FASD medical screening.
  • 10:30am to 12pm – Current research on effective interventions for families and children with FASD; General clinical treatment approaches to more effectively work with families and children with FASD; how to engage other systems to provide support to clients with FASD to improve outcomes.


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