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REPRESENTING CLIENTS WITH FASD IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM: Changing Court Attitudes Raising FASD at all stages. WILLIAM J. EDWARDS, DEPUTY PUBLIC DEFENDER OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CALIFORNIA. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).
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WILLIAM J. EDWARDS, DEPUTY PUBLIC DEFENDER
OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER
LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
FAS is a neuropsychiatric developmental disorder that is a common public health issue according to the U.S. Surgeon General’s 2005 Report.
A set of mental, physical and neurobehavioral birth defects caused by exposure to alcohol during pregnancy.
1. What people with FAS & FASD look like at different ages
2. How their unusual behaviors are related to brain damage from prenatal alcohol exposure and possibly enhanced by bad environments
3. How can you establish that the mother drank alcohol during her pregnancy with this child
4. And which experts can make your case. (I’ll also tell you about mistakes I’ve made)
FASD is an umbrella term used to describe the many different disabling effects of prenatal alcohol exposure.
FASD includes FAS and other alcohol-related diagnostic categories such as ALCOHOL RELATED NEURODEVELOPMENTAL DISORDER (ARND), formerly known as Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE).
FASD is a developmental disorder because of the obstructions and delays from normal growth patterns and resulting deficits including:
General intelligence, mastery of academics and general level of adaptive functioning are measures of “primary disabilities.”
Secondary disabilities are those that the client is not born with, and that could presumably be ameliorated (either fully or partially) through better understanding and appropriate interventions.
In a 1996 study conducted by Dr. Ann Streissguth from the University of Washington School of Medicine, the prevalence of Secondary Disabilities was measured in 473 people with FAS/FASD from ages 6 to 51.
Problems Substantiating FAS/FASD
When asking about use of any substances, frame the question by asking “How many…” rather than “Did you…”
Women are more likely to acknowledge alcohol use prior to pregnancy than after pregnancy recognition.
Drinking PATTERNS from time periods prior to pregnancy are predictive of outcomes.
In the 30 days BEFORE you found out you were pregnant, how many drinks did you have?
(Reproductive Toxicology 24: 31-41 (2007))
Records to show a maternal history of alcohol use by the mother
Mattson, et al., 1994; Mattson & Riley, 1995; Riley et al., 1995
Some examples of legal questions commonly confronting capital lawyers:
IQ scores alone fail to give an adequate picture of organic brain damage and deficits in adaptive behavior.
Counsel needs to coordinate with the court and probation and parole services in identifying and advocating for resources in the community.