Workplace Difficulties

Difficulty in the workplace is one of the adverse outcomes seen in individuals with FASD. Research has shown that 79% of adults with FASD have employment difficulties. Only 13% held a regular job at some point, even though many adults had received employment training and preparation. Difficulties were centered around keeping a job more often than obtaining a job in the first place.

Job training, transition planning, and economic supports and protection are needed as the individual moves throughout adolescence and adulthood. Modeling and rehearsing skills that will prevent memory issues and impulsivity will help the individual perform on the job.

Academics are a major predictor of success in employment for an individual with FASD. Graduation from high school and other training programs increase the likelihood of employment. Problems leading to workplace difficulties may include:

  • Poor emotional control 
  • Social difficulties (i.e. difficulties with co-workers and supervisors), 
  • Poor understanding of tasks 
  • Poor judgement 
  • Problems with time management and planning leading to unreliability. 
  • Problems at home such as raising a child, as many individuals in the research in this area had gone on to have their own children.

Preventing difficulties in the workplace may prevent other adverse outcomes such as mental health problems, inability to support oneself, and social isolation. Not every job someone tries will be the right fit, consider these points when helping someone with FASD find the right job for them:

  • Find work that fits their abilities.
  • Look for volunteer opportunities and jobs with trial periods to "test the waters" before making a commitment.
  • Find positions that emphasize routine and have regular hours but are flexible so that they can work in the individual's other routines.
  • Help them decide if they want full time or part time employment. It often works best to start with part time and work their way up to full time if their abilities permit it.
  • Be weary of overly stimulating or distracting environments. See if there are means to avoid becoming overwhelmed such as headphones or rest periods.
  • Be sure the position includes the job training that can continue or stop if they are able to perform alone.
  • Try to find employers and employees who are supportive and willing to help. Provide information on FASD to the employer and let them know how that might affect their work.
  • Assist the individual in understanding and filling out paperwork associated with the job.


Transition Planning
Video webinar with handouts by Megan Tucker, Transition Coordinator, Lakeland Centre for FASD. The transition planning model (includes job planning) from Lakeland Centre for FASD (from FASD CMC Alberta)

FASD: What the Business Community Should Know
One page fact sheet from NOFAS outlining how FASD affects the business world and how the business world can support those with FASD


Free program to help find, obtain, and maintain a job for individuals with special needs (from Do2Learn)