Parent and Teacher Ratings of Australian Aboriginal Children with versus without Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

High rates of alcohol consumption have been found among pregnant Australian Aboriginal women. Previous studies had shown elevated ASEBA scores for children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), but Tsang et al (2017) compared parents’ CBCL/6-18 versus teachers’ TRF ratings of Aboriginal children with and without FASD, plus multiple other risk factors. Neither the parents nor teachers were aware of children’s FASD status. Although FASD and Non-FASD children obtained similarly high CBCL scores, significantly larger proportions of the FASD children than Non-FASD children scored in the borderline/clinical range on most TRF problem scales as well as on the TRF Adaptive Functioning and Academic Performance scales.

Teachers also endorsed more critical items for FASD than Non-FASD children, especially Talks about killing self. The authors concluded that “Both parents and teachers reported high rates of internalizing and externalizing behaviors in the total cohort (of FASD and Non-FASD children). From the teacher perspective, children in the FASD group had significantly more behavioral problems than their Non-FASD peers” (p. 536). In other words, even though parents also reported high levels of problems for their children, they were less aware than teachers of the still higher levels of problems displayed by FASD than Non-FASD children.

Reference: Tsang, T.W., Olson, H.C., Latimer, J., Fitzpatrick, J., Hand, M., Oscar, J., Carter, M., & Elliott, E.J. (2017). Behavior in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in remote Australia: A population-based study. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 38, 528-537.