FASD is widely understood to be a hidden disability.
Although it has been over 40 years since the harmful effects of prenatal alcohol exposure were identified in medical literature, the majority of individuals with FASD—of any age—are not properly diagnosed. Unfortunately, service providers in the various systems of care and personnel in the education and criminal justice systems are not trained to identify and appropriately consider the needs of a child, adolescent, or adult with FASD. Further contributing to the lack of recognition are federal, state and private insurance disability classifications that do not consider FASD as an eligible condition for services. A lack of understanding from the general public adds to housing and employment difficulties, making many adults with FASD dependent on their caregivers.
Even among those who do recognize FASD, the focus is often on children and not adults with the disorders.
As individuals with FASD enter adulthood, they and their family members and caregivers face additional challenges. Adults are increasingly vulnerable to the secondary disabilities associated with FASD such as trouble with the law, mental health problems, an inability to live independently, and victimization. Adults are more likely to be unemployed and often struggle to manage the money in their possession. While a proper diagnosis, access to the best interventions, and a positive environment are beneficial, they often do not prevent secondary disabilities. NOFAS has compiled a list of resources and information to help adults and caregivers better manage FASD in adulthood.
For a directory of local resources for people with FASD, click here.