Carrick A, Hamilton CJ. Heated Behaviour in the Classroom for Children with FASD: The Relationship between Characteristics Associated with ADHD, ODD and ASD, Hot Executive Function and Classroom Based Reward Systems. Children. 2023; 10(4):685. https://doi.org/10.3390/children10040685
Possession of characteristics related to Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, and Autism Spectrum Disorder in children prenatally exposed to alcohol contributes to challenges within the diagnostic pathway for Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). The presentation of these characteristics, though problematic for the children affected, may not result in referral for diagnosis; focusing on diagnostic thresholds masks the dimensional nature of these characteristics. Children with traits which are undiagnosed may not receive effective support and are often identified as exhibiting challenging behaviour. In the UK, children with undiagnosed Special Educational Needs (SEN) are more likely to experience school exclusion. Common across each condition are challenges to executive function associated with emotional regulation (hot-executive function).
This study explored the relationship between characteristics of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Autistic-Like Traits, and hot executive functions on the helpfulness of reward-based interventions for children with suspected or diagnosed FASD. Data were collected online using caregiver referral questionnaire screeners for each measure (Child Autism Quotient Questionnaire, Vanderbilt ADHD Parental Rating Scale and The Childhood Executive Functioning Inventory) for children aged 6–12 years with suspected or diagnosed FASD (n = 121).
Between-group comparisons showed no significant difference in the reporting of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder characteristics, Oppositional Defiance Disorder characteristics, Autistic-Like Traits, and executive function, regardless of diagnostic state. Multiple regression analyses indicated that these personality characteristics and executive functions were associated with the perception of the reward system helpfulness. However, this pattern was qualified by both the type of hot executive function challenged (significant for Regulation not Inhibition) and whether the child had an FASD diagnosis. Thus, a dimensional approach may strengthen our understanding of the child’s classroom experience and help overcome barriers to effective intervention and support.