Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


This study was a review of existing case files and focused on the struggles of one particular segment of the special needs student population and the challenges that educators face as they attempt to engage them in meaningful learning experiences. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAS/FAE) are completely preventable; yet, their presence in classrooms remains high and bears profound implications for educators. This study examined the specific relationships between FAS/FAE and literacy acquisition in children. Specific variables of children with FAS/FAE were considered. They included IQ, speech/language development, and social behavior performance.

Hypotheses guiding this study were the following:

  1. Evidence of developmentally delayed speech/language functions and social behavior performance relates highly with literacy acquisition in children with FAS/FAE.
  2. Expressive and receptive speech/language functions are expected to be the most critical indicator of literacy performance in children with FAS/FAE.
  3. IQ will evidence itself as a factor in literacy acquisition in children with FAS/FAE.

Case files reviewed represented youngsters from the Midwest region, identified through a variety of screening and community services. These subjects have been monitored for several years by a northern plains research university and hospital. Cases represent both genders as well as a variety of racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. Initial referral came from schools, childcare providers, social service personnel, health care workers or physicians, and occasionally from parents themselves. Information gathered included general health and psychological analyses, as well as specific developmental evaluations. Based on the cases reviewed, it generally appeared that social behavior bears slightly more influence on literacy acquisition than does speech/language development.

A variety of conclusions and recommendations were offered. Collaboration between social and health care agencies must be improved. Educational entities must continue to develop effective instructional practices which meet the needs of this particular group of youngsters. Yet, without question, prevention efforts are the only reasonable response and must receive our most concerted efforts.