Preventable Secondary Characteristics
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Preventable Secondary Characteristics

Preventable secondary disabilities are not a reflection of the brain-based invisible physical disability with behavioral symptoms caused by exposure to alcohol but rather the constant misunderstanding of primary disabilities and a poor fit between the individual’s needs, developmental age and the environment.

These secondary disabilities often arise when there are undiagnosed primary disabilities and/or lack or interventions or supports:

  • Frustration, Acting out, Irritability, Tantrums
  • Mental Health Disorders
  • Homelessness
  • Alcohol and Drug Addictions
  • Disrupted School Experience
  • Trouble with the Law, Incarceration
  • Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour
  • Problems with Employment
  • Dependent Living

Secondary disabilities of FASD result from negative consequences of primary disabilities and can often change with appropriate and timely interventions.

Secondary disabilities can be prevented with protective factors such as:

  • Diagnosis before age 6.
  • A stable placement with a family that is trained (through all developmental hurdles) and supported (individually, in group and respite).
  • A school program that understands and supports the primary disabilities of FASD.
  • Case planning that focuses on building a positive future that includes responsible life planning and does not include placement

References

Streissguth, A. & Kanter, J. (Eds.). (1997). The Challenge of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Overcoming Secondary Disabilities. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.

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