Sexual Behaviours

Individuals with prenatal alcohol exposure tend to show increased behaviour problems compared to their peers, including sexually inappropriate behaviours. These behaviours are may be an adverse outcome which may lead to involvement with the Justice System and the law. One study found that 39% of children and 49% of adolescents with FASD had sexually inappropriate behaviours. Examples of these behaviours are sexual advances, promiscuity, and inappropriate sexual touching.

Possible causes of sexualized behaviours:

  • Some children with FASD have spent time in difficult living arrangements where they have been abused. Researchers have shown that individuals who have experienced sexual abuse are more likely to exhibit sexually inappropriate behaviours. 
  • Higher likelihood of impulsivity and risk taking in individuals with FASD 
  • Desire to fit in socially and be accepted in adolescence 
  • Difficulty understanding consequences (often due to problems in memory and executive function)
  • Misunderstanding of body language and personal space

It is important for caregivers to have conversations about sexual needs despite the stigma surrounding individuals with disabilities. With the correct intervention, individuals with FASD may be more likely to avoid victimization in sexual situations. If educated about the risks of sexual behaviours, women can prevent unplanned pregnancy. Specific interventions should be targeted to women of childbearing age who drink alcohol in order to reduce the instances of children born with alcohol exposure. Sexual education targeted to men and women of all ages with FASD should cover consent, avoiding risky situations, safe sex, appropriate times for sexual behaviours, healthy sexual relationships, and other topics. The rates of sexually transmitted infections could be reduced with interventions centered around safe sex practices.


Friendship? Dating? Sex? Relationships in the Complex FASD World
Video webinar with handouts presented by Pam Van Vugt and Danna Ormstrup. Discusses issues in relationships for those with FASD as well as skills and strategies for successful relationships (from FASD CMC Alberta)

Safety Issues: FASD and Sexuality
Video webinar with handouts presented by Dr. Shaniff Esmail. Discusses strategies to promote sexual health for individuals with FASD (from FASD CMC Alberta)

Teaching Students with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: Building Strengths, Creating Hope (Programming for Students with Special Needs: Book 10)
Overview of FASD; Concepts for teaching and strategies to help with learning needs (from Alberta Education)
Sexual education: pp. 42-43

Expectant Mothers
General information about alcohol and pregnancy for expectant mothers (from NOFAS)


Family Life and Sexual Health Curriculum (F.L.A.S.H.)
Special Education Component Website from Seattle & King County public health.