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Behavior, Cognition, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Foster Home Care



  1. Gardner, Janelle MSN, RNC


Purpose: To describe the experiences of foster parents who are living with a child diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).


Design and Method: A qualitative approach was selected due to the paucity of knowledge on the topic. Eight foster mothers living with children with FAS were studied. These foster parents had parented a collective total of 17 children with FAS, ranging between the ages of 2 and 16. Each in-depth interview was unstructured and consisted of open-ended questions. Data were analyzed using content analysis.


Results: Foster parents described many difficult issues needing attention in children with FAS. Cognitive concerns included diminished memory/comprehension, lack of understanding of consequences, and the absence of fear. Behavioral management was a problem due to the frequent occurrence of hyperactivity, aggressiveness, destructiveness, and high pain tolerance. Parents also described problems in coping with daily realities of life with a child with FAS including the necessity of providing consistency, coping strategies, and fears for the child's future.


Clinical Implications: Nurses need to understand the complex problems that face affected children and their families. Understanding the daily realities of living with children with FAS allows nurses to realistically assess childrens' abilities, maximize their development, and provide for their needs more effectively, as well as assisting families to cope with the behavior and cognitive issues so apparent in children with FAS.