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Personality and learning traits that may be associated with Fetal Alcohol Exposure (FAE)

There are a number of personality and learning traits associated with children exposed to alcohol during fetal development.   


There are a number of personality and learning traits associated with children exposed to alcohol during fetal development. These traits have been observed by parents, teachers, and clinicians.

There are, however, a multitude of other factors that are also associated with these traits (birth trauma, family history, child abuse, nutrition, chemical exposure, socio-economic status, etc.). Some of these behaviours may be reversible with intervention and others not. Traits that are associated with brain damage, however, are permanent and irreversible.

Pre-School and Kindergarten

  1. Easily influenced by others; gets into trouble by following misbehaving peers, or is “put up to misbehaving” by others who recognize their vulnerability.
  2. Difficulty separating reality from fantasy. A question like “What did you do this weekend?” might get this as an answer: “We flew to Sun City in my Daddy’s jet.”
  3. Temper tantrums; different perception of either reality or environment.
  4. Lying, stealing, disobedience.
  5. Delayed physical / academic / social development –difficulty in interaction.
  6. Memory loss or retrieval problems; may seem selective.
  7. Impulsive, hyperactive, stone throwing.
  8. Inappropriate social behaviour.
  9. Regression / retreat from the situation (or teacher, friends, family).
  10. Silence.
  11. Concentration problems; cannot concentrate for a certain period.
  12. Needs constant and consistent reteaching and repeating.

Middle School and Junior High

  1. Passive response when asked to do a task.
  2. Lying, stealing, without any reason for it, or because of a different perception of reality.
  3. Poor reasoning skills.
  4. “Me” centered.
  5. Poor motivation.
  6. Low self-esteem.
  7. Social isolation; difficulty in interaction.
  8. Depression.
  9. Unwanted pregnancies / STDs / AIDS / rape / sexual molestation.
  10. Possible loss of living facility.
  11. Lacks a concept of time and time management.
  12. Needs constant reteaching.
  13. Possible alcohol involvement and other substance abuse.
  14. Memory loss or retrieval problems; things that all learners should know or remember – e.g. alphabet, months of the year, days of the week, etc.

High School

  • Poor sequencing.
  • Lying, stealing, cheating, different perception of reality.
  • Poor reasoning.
  • Memory loss or retrieval problems; things that all learners should know or remember – e.g. alphabet, months of the year, days of the week, etc.
  • Self-centered.
  • High level of frustration.
  • Unwanted pregnancies / STDs / AIDS / rape / sexual molestation.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Poor motivation.
  • Poor concept of time and time management.
  • Depression.
  • Need for constant reteaching.
  • Homelessness.
  • Alcohol involvement and other substance abuse.
  • Involvement in gangsterism.
  • Post High School and Adulthood

    1. Constant retraining.
    2. Need for patience and praise.
    3. Poor logic and reasoning.
    4. Poor concept of time and time management.
    5. Unwanted pregnancies / STDs / AIDS / rape / sexual molestation.
    6. Inappropriate “showing off”.
    7. Inability to sort information and set priorities.
    8. Withdrawal.
    9. Isolation.
    10. Alcoholism and other substance abuse.
    11. Lack of concept of cause and effect.
    12. Unpredictable behaviour.
    13. Lying, stealing, cheating, different perception of reality.
    14. Gangsterism.
    15. Crime involvement – e.g. theft, attacking people, knife stabbing, rape, murder, etc. that may lead to imprisonment.
    16. Difficulty with finances.
    17. Unemployment, poverty.
    18. Depression.
    19. Suicide.

    • "A new baby is like the beginning of all things - wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities.” ―Eda J. Le Shan

    • “Drinking during pregnancy is linked with disaster – personal disaster for the ‘bright-eyed ones,’ disaster for their families and their hope for their young, and disaster for . . . society as we struggle to pay the huge price of this destruction.” - Prof. Ann Streissguth, Ph.D.

    • "If you're pregnant, don't drink. If you drink, don't get pregnant" - Eva Carner

    • "Every day is FASD Awareness day" - Teresa Kellerman (www.babybornfree.com)