Heather Carmichael Olson, PhD

Personal Statement

I am a psychologist who carries out research, provides community education to a broad range of audiences, trains postgraduate students, works on public policy– and has served as a clinician with children and families for many years. My main interests are fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), early childhood mental health, and interventions for children born prenatally exposed to alcohol and other drugs and their families. My research is currently based at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, but I also work in collaboration with UW researchers– and scientists at the University of Rochester in New York and multiple other academic institutions. A main research focus has been the Families Moving Forward (FMF) Program, a family-focused FASD intervention, now being disseminated primarily in the USA and Canada.  The FMF Program is also now being translated into a mobile health application, called FMF Connect, for even broader use. Through Seattle Children’s, I co-direct a pilot service focused on assessment and short-term consultation for youth with prenatal substance exposure (including alcohol), and their families. I also offer mental health services to a broad range of young children and develops research focused on early childhood mental health. Over the years, beyond research and clinical work, I have been able to work toward change in national US public policy, collaborate with Indigenous communities and researchers in remote Northwestern Australia, and train dedicated young professionals in psychology and psychiatry. I am grateful for these remarkable career opportunities… and the chance to meet so many resilient and inspiring families. Note that you can only reach me through my Seattle Children’s email, at: heather.carmichaelolson@seattlechildrens.org


Behavioral Teratology , University of Washington , 1989-1991
Psychology Internship Training , University of Washington, Center on Human Development and Disability , 1986-1987
Ph.D. , Developmental and Child-Clinical Psychology , University of Washington , 1978-1986
M.A. , Speech-Language Pathology , University of Iowa , 1974-1976
B.S. , Biological Sciences , University of Redlands , 1970-1974

Department Affiliations

Other Affiliations

Early Childhood Clinic – Seattle Children’s Hospital
Autism Center – Seattle Children’s Hospital
Training Clinic

Recent Publications

Adverse childhood experiences in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and their effects on behavior.
(2023 Mar)
Alcohol Clin Exp Res (Hoboken) 47(3): 577-588
Kautz-Turnbull C, Rockhold M, Handley ED, Olson HC, Petrenko C

Initial Feasibility of the "Families Moving Forward Connect" Mobile Health Intervention for Caregivers of Children With Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Mixed Method Evaluation Within a Systematic User-Centered Design Approach.
(2021 Dec 2)
JMIR Form Res 5(12): e29687
Petrenko CLM, Kautz-Turnbull CC, Roth AR, Parr JE, Tapparello C, Demir U, Olson HC

Effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on cognitive and behavioral development: Findings from a hierarchical meta-analysis of data from six prospective longitudinal U.S. cohorts.
(2021 Oct)
Alcohol Clin Exp Res 45(10): 2040-2058
Jacobson JL, Akkaya-Hocagil T, Ryan LM, Dodge NC, Richardson GA, Olson HC, Coles CD, Day NL, Cook RJ, Jacobson SW

A shift in perspective on secondary disabilities in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
(2021 May)
Alcohol Clin Exp Res 45(5): 916-921
Olson HC, Sparrow J

School-based intervention to address self-regulation and executive functioning in children attending primary schools in remote Australian Aboriginal communities.
PLoS One 15(6): e0234895
Wagner B, Latimer J, Adams E, Carmichael Olson H, Symons M, Mazzucchelli TG, Jirikowic T, Watkins R, Cross D, Carapetis J, Boulton J, Wright E, McRae T, Carter M, Fitzpatrick JP

Show complete publication list »
Edit Profile