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Living with fetal alcohol syndrome may be challenging at times, but with proper planning and care from friends, family, and healthcare experts, it is possible to successfully live semi-independently. Challenges often include difficulty in conducting daily activities, such as working, managing money, and maintaining a home. A supportive community is essential for people living with fetal alcohol syndrome, both at home and in the workplace.

Living With Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: An Overview

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a lifelong condition, and there is no cure. There are, however, protective factors that have been found to help individuals with the condition. For example, a child who is diagnosed early in life can be placed in appropriate educational classes and given access to social services that can help the child and his or her family.
Children living with fetal alcohol syndrome who receive special education are more likely to achieve their developmental and educational potential. In addition, these children need a loving, nurturing, and stable home life to avoid disruptions, transient lifestyles, or harmful relationships. Children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) who live in abusive or unstable homes, or who become involved in youth violence, are much more likely than those who do not have such negative experiences to develop secondary conditions associated with the condition.

Challenges of Living With Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

For people living with fetal alcohol syndrome, daily activities, such as working, managing money, and maintaining a home, present huge challenges. In a 1996 study of adults with fetal alcohol syndrome conducted by the University of Washington, 50 percent had trouble finding a job, and 60 percent had trouble keeping a job. Eighteen percent achieved independent living, but fewer than 10 percent were able to do so without employment problems. Approximately 80 percent of people with fetal alcohol syndrome have trouble managing money and making decisions.
Furthermore, certain percentages of people living with fetal alcohol syndrome needed help with other daily tasks, including:
  • Getting social services (70 percent)
  • Getting medical care (66 percent)
  • Having relationships (56 percent)
  • Shopping (52 percent)
  • Cooking meals (49 percent)
  • Staying out of trouble (47 percent)
  • Structuring leisure time (47 percent)
  • Keeping clean (36 percent)
  • Using public transportation (24 percent).
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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