Background: Children with prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) have significant social skills deficits and are often treated in community mental health settings. However, it remains unclear whether these children can be effectively treated using manualized, evidence-based interventions that have been designed for more general mental health populations.
Methods: To shed light on this issue, the effectiveness of Children’s Friendship Training (CFT) versus Standard of Care (SOC) was assessed for 85 children ages 6 to 12 years with and without PAE in a community mental health center.
Results: Children participating in CFT showed significantly improved knowledge of appropriate social skills, improved self-concept, and improvements in parent-reported social skills compared to children in the SOC condition. Moreover, results revealed that within the CFT condition, children with PAE performed as well as children without PAE. Findings indicated that CFT, an evidence-based social skills intervention, yielded greater gains than a community SOC social skills intervention and was equally effective for children with PAE as for those without PAE.
Conclusions: Results suggest that children with PAE can benefit from treatments initiated in community settings in which therapists are trained to understand their unique developmental needs, and that they can be successfully integrated into treatment protocols that include children without PAE.