Day 65 of 99 Days to FASDay: FASD and Work


Today we wrap up information from Understanding the Occurrence of Secondary Disabilities by looking at employment experiences for adults with FAS and FAE (diagnosis used in Study), as well as provide information and links to help with employment.

To begin on a positive note, the Study found the following protective factors for successful employment:

  • Adaptive Behaviour Composite higher than the median (although the Report, in this section at least, did not state what that median was)
  • Having a driver’s license
  • A living situation more than the median number of years (again, not stated in this section)
  • Never experienced violence
  • Early diagnosis
  • Living in a nurturing and stable home for over 72% of life

The two largest risk factors against successful employment:

  • diagnosis of FAS, as opposed to FAE
  • low IQ

Over 60% of the adults in this study had more difficulty holding a job than actually getting hired. So what did the study reveal were the “problems” their clients had:

  • 65% were easily frustrated
  • 57% experienced poor task comprehension (the authors speculated this high number reflected poor job placement and lack of the employer’s education about FAS/FAE)
  • 55% experienced poor judgement and social problems
  • Just over 40% had anger management issues and were unreliable
  • 40% had problems with a supervisor
  • Just over 30% had problems with lying (one wonders if this was confabulation however)

Overall, this Study found 79% of their clients 21 years and older had problems with employment. Interesting to note the number of adults experiencing problems was higher for women with FAS vs for men with FAE.

Employment and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: Strategies for Success

by Courtney R. Green, PhD., and Jocelynn L. Cook, PhD., MBA (Canada FASD Research Network)

Competitive and fulfilling employment can help develop a positive identity, self-esteem and self-worth. It can be a protective factor against some secondary disabilities associated with FASD, as well as reducing poverty and dependency. However, the cognitive and behavioural difficulties, as well as some socio-economic and preconceived negative expectations associated with FASD make it challenging to join and stay in the workforce.

When employers and coworkers understand FASD and its challenges and provide appropriate accommodations, the likelihood for success is increased.

The information highlighted below is from the NOFAS website. Click on the link for more detail and links to other resources.

An employer can help to achieve successful employment by:

  • Using concrete language
  • Establishing routine
  • Providing continued training
  • Frequently reviewing his or her expectations for the employee
  • Assisting in interpreting the needs and wants of other employees and customers

Parents and caregivers can also assist in providing successful employment by:

  • Picking jobs that match an individual’s skills, abilities, and interests
  • Emphasizing strengths, not weaknesses
  • Using volunteering positions and trial periods to learn about a variety of jobs
  • Finding jobs which follow a daily routine and have consistent, regular hours
  • Finding jobs that do no have a very stimulating environment or using noise-blocking headphones to reduce distractions
  • Utilizing job training
  • Educating employers about FASD and talking about possible accommodations
  • Providing a digital watch and a written schedule
  • Using text messages and alarms as cues

Community Living British Columbia

has produced an excellent and comprehensive resource: Supporting Success for Adults with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder which has tips on a wide variety of subjects, including employment, and can be downloaded free of charge.

For those in Ontario, Canada

check out FASD ONE for a list of Assisted Employment links and information, mostly for Ontario but does provide links to other provinces.

2020 Update

Supporting individuals with FASD in a workplace

An business owner, employer and a caregiver to an individual with FASD provided some thoughts on accommodations workplaces can make in this blog post from November 2020.

Job Accommodations Network

While specific for accommodations law in the USA, this site has some great information on accommodations and links to resources. Well worth a look.

If you know of further studies or helpful resources, feel free to comment below.