Nine out of ten young people in Western Australian youth detention are severely impaired in at least one area of brain function such as memory, language, attention, and executive function (planning and understanding consequences).
New research, conducted in WA’s only detention centre and recently published found that: 89% were severely impaired in at least one area of functioning; 65% were impaired in three or more areas; and 1 in 3 had fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).
Many young people displayed problems with remembering and recalling information, such as struggling to remember instructions. Others had difficulty understanding what was being said to them and being able to express themselves verbally, focusing their attention and being able to switch focus between tasks when required.
Impairments may come across in behaviours with young people appearing willfully naughty, defiant, or lazy, when in reality they may be struggling to remember, understand or comprehend what is required of them. The study has resulted in research informed training for detention centre staff to better support these young people. This is an opportunity to find out more about this study and possible early identification and interventions for schools.
This was a joint event by the School Psychologists’ Association WA and Western Australian Primary Principals’ Association.