Is it Time for the Creation of a #FASD – Based Legal Training Certification Program?

64274-thewhitestwall1Individuals with suspected or confirmed FASD commonly experience a wide-range of impairments that can significantly impair their ability to competently proceed through the complex criminal trial process.

To illustrate this point further, some individuals with FASD may be more inclined to confabulate, be suggestible under interrogative pressures and questioning, and provide inaccurate information sometimes leading to the possibility of wrongful conviction. As such, it is strongly suggested that all legal professionals receive continuing education on topics related to FASD.

To go a step further, the creation of a specialized FASD-based legal training certification program may be warranted. As part of a proposed FASD-based legal training certification program, the following subtopics should be considered:

FASD: An Introduction
FASD and Competency to Stand Trial
FASD and Confabulation
FASD and Executive Functioning Impairments
FASD and Sexually Inappropriate Behaviors
FASD and Social Skill Deficits
FASD and Suggestibility
FASD and the Juvenile Justice System
FASD in Correctional Settings
FASD: Case Law
FASD: Communication and Intervention Approaches
FASD: Ethical and Legal Dilemmas
FASD: Forensic Screening Practices
FASD: Offender Reentry and Community Supervision
FASD: Sentencing Considerations
FASD: Vulnerability and Victimization

-Jerrod Brown

The Whitest Wall by Jodee Kulp takes readers into the world of three individuals living in a regular community and demonstrates how this disability affects day to day functioning most people tilt their heads at but don’t understand. Winner of Best Young Adult USA Fiction (2012) Winner Mom’s Choice Gold Adult Fiction and Young Adult Fiction.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder ( #FASD ): 10 Reminders for Helping Professionals

By: Jerrod Brown

64274-thewhitestwall11. The effects of FASD are irreversible. They can, however, be minimized and managed through appropriate therapy and supports.

2. Some individuals with FASD may struggle with fine motor skills and, as a result, become frustrated/easily angered due to difficulties in coordination.

3. School settings can be a problem for some students with FASD.

4. As adults, symptoms may become more obvious since the ability to plan and anticipate consequences continue to be impaired and the responsibilities of daily living are increased (e.g. this may negatively impact finances, housing, and other areas of life).

5. Some individuals with FASD live with the challenges of numerous secondary conditions (e.g. ADHD, Conduct Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), Sleep Disorders, etc.).

6. Some individuals with FASD likely have experienced previous trauma (e.g. emotional, physical or sexual abuse, exposure to domestic violence, substance abuse and extreme neglect).

7. Some individuals with FASD may present as hyperactive, impulsive, and tend to have poor social skills.

8. Misdiagnosis and under-diagnosis of FASD is common.

9. Social and emotional development deficits are common for some individuals with FASD (e.g. a child with FASD who is 18 years old chronologically, may be functioning developmentally at a much younger age).

10. Deficits in executive function are common (e.g. difficulties in problem solving, impaired judgment, poor decision making skills, diminished ability to comprehend the cause and effect of their actions and behaviors).

Confabulation (verb: confabulate) is a memory disturbance, defined as the production of fabricated, distorted or misinterpreted memories about oneself or the world, without the conscious intention to deceive.

The Whitest Wall by Jodee Kulp takes readers into the world of five individuals living in a regular community and demonstrates how this disability affects day to day functioning most people tilt their heads at but don’t understand. Winner of Best Young Adult USA Fiction (2012) Winner Mom’s Choice Gold Adult Fiction and Young Adult Fiction.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder ( #FASD ) and the Law by Jerrod Brown

Concerns of FASD commonly come up during different portions of legal processes (i.e., police interrogations, waiving Miranda rights, entering pleas, standing trial, providing testimony, and sentencing).

64274-thewhitestwall1For example, the confessions of suspects with FASD and testimony of witnesses with FASD are often called into question, given the memory, communication, and social deficits of the disorder. Further, FASD may interfere with a defendant’s ability to comprehend legal proceedings and participate in their own defense. Finally, diagnoses of FASD may be considered as mitigating evidence during the sentencing of a defendant, particularly in death penalty cases. Thus, the presence of an FASD diagnosis calls into question the validity of many legal proceedings

-Adapted from Anthony Wartnik, Jerrod Brown, & Sarah Herrick, 2015

The Whitest Wall by Jodee Kulp takes readers into the world of five individuals living in a regular community and demonstrates how this disability affects day-to-day functioning most people tilt their heads at but don’t understand. Winner of Best Young Adult USA Fiction (2012) Winner Mom’s Choice Gold Adult Fiction and Young Adult Fiction.