This article is part of the Research Topic Brain Development and the Attention Spectrum

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Hum. Neurosci., 07 March 2014 | doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00119

Complexities in understanding attentional functioning among children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

  • 1Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada
  • 2Department of Psychology, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, USA
  • 3Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Parental reports of attention problems and clinical symptomatology of ADHD among children with fetal alcohol syndrome disorder (FASD) were assessed in relation to performance on standardized subtests of attentional control/shifting and selective attention from the Test of Everyday Attention for Children (TEA-Ch; Manly et al., 1998). The participants included 14 children with FASD with a mean chronological age (CA) of 11.7 years and a mean mental age (MA) of 9.7 years, and 14 typically developing (TD) children with no reported history of prenatal exposure to alcohol or attention problems with a mean CA of 8.4 years and a mean MA of 9.6 years. The children with FASD were rated by their caregivers as having clinically significant attention difficulties for their developmental age. The reported symptomatology for the majority of the children with FASD were consistent with a diagnosis of ADHD, combined type, and only one child had a score within the average range. These reports are consistent with the finding that the children with FASD demonstrated difficulties with attentional control/shifting, but inconsistent with the finding that they outperformed the TD children on a test assessing selective attention. These findings are considered within the context of the complexity in understanding attentional functioning among children with FASD and discrepancies across sources of information and components of attention.

Keywords: fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, attentional control, selective attention, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, test of everyday attention for children, prenatal exposure to alcohol, attention deficit, attention switching

Citation: Lane KA, Stewart J, Fernandes T, Russo N, Enns JT and Burack JA (2014) Complexities in understanding attentional functioning among children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 8:119. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00119

Received: 07 October 2013; Accepted: 17 February 2014;
Published online: 07 March 2014.

Edited by:

Itai Berger, Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center, Israel

Reviewed by:

Itai Berger, Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center, Israel
Ariel Tenenbaum, Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center, Israel

Copyright © 2014 Lane, Stewart, Fernandes, Russo, Enns and Burack. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Jacob A. Burack, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, McGill University, 3700 McTavish Street, Room 614, Montreal, QC H3A 1Y2, Canada e-mail: jake.burack@mcgill.ca

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