Assisted Employment for People affected by FASD
People with FASD have many skills and abilities and are all different. Most really want to work and are eager to please. They tend to be great talkers and can get work, but often have trouble keeping a job. Many find they can work well only part time. Volunteer experience is good for them to have, and a parent may volunteer with them to make that happen. There are Transition-to-work programs in Ontario, but often they require the person to qualify for Developmental Services Ontario DSO. Staff in organizations who help people with disabilities may not know about FASD, since it is invisible and often undiagnosed. Speaking up about FASD with organizations and employers will make a difference in awareness and acceptance.
Help finding suitable employment
Employment Ontario Employment Service has offices all over the province.http://www.tcu.gov.on.ca/eng/employmentontario/
It is wise for a parent or mentor to accompany the child or adult going to employment offices because staff may simply point to computers and not provide real help unless one knows how to ask. A job search is hard for anyone, and there are many resources. A person with FASD may not want to think of themselves as being disabled. They may have been fired a few times before realizing the advantage of seeking some form of assisted employment. Still they may not want to disclose the extent of their disability. Suggestions regarding disclosing information to prospective employers are found in Alberta.ca What Works at
and Regina Community Clinic at
Supported employment which is real work in an integrated setting with ongoing support provided by an agency with expertise in finding employment for people with disabilities. There are a large number of specialized employment organizations throughout the province which help people with disabilities. It may be necessary for the individual to be referred by the Ontario Disability Support program. Some of these organizations only work with people with Developmental Services Ontario DSO coverage. It will be necessary for a parent or mentor to search out suitable ones in your area, and help with paper work. Be careful, once you have chosen an organization to work with, it may be hard to change. They can provide assistance with job preparation, assessment, job search and job retention with a job coach. There are employers who will hire people with disabilities including FASD, and build on their strengths. They just have to be found and kept.
Helping FASD-affected teens and adults to be successful in the workplace
Lack of structure, routine and a consistent schedule, poor training and instructions, the need to multitask and boredom on the job can cause difficulties. Many people with FASD may have memory problems, problems handling cash, problems being on time, problems getting along with co-workers. Job accommodations are reasonable modifications, adjustments and equipment acquisitions that employers make. See a list of some for people with developmental disabilities at Alberta.ca What works https://alis.alberta.ca/pdf/cshop/whatworks/ww_developmentaldisabilities.pdf
Other suggestions for employers with FASD affected staff members are found in the Employment Resources below. Once a person with FASD has a job, he will likely need help keeping it. A parent or mentor can help by role playing duties, reviewing his schedule, reminding with daily phone calls and checking in frequently. It is wise to ensure the employee is paid by direct deposit and they have help with banking and managing their money, perhaps with a joint account or someone doing it on their behalf. They will also need assistance with reporting earnings and keeping documents.
Assisted employment programs
There are many different programs in Ontario, and specific ones for Aboriginal people.
Assisted Employment ODSP Employment Support . Ontario. Ministry of Community and Social Services.
“ODSP: Information sheet
ODSP employment supports: Preparing for work, finding work and advancing my career
ODSP employment supports can help you prepare for, get and keep a job.
ODSP employment supports can help you even if you have never worked before, or have been out of work for some time.
A person with a disability doesn’t have to be receiving ODSP income support to be eligible for employment supports…
ODSP employment supports are provided by community-based service providers. Service providers offer many supports, including:
job coaching, on-the-job training, interpreter/intervenor services, transportation assistance, specialized computer training, assistive devices and training to use them, adaptive software and mobility devices, tools and equipment, special clothing, and other items needed for work.
A service provider is a community-based organization that helps people find work or start a business.
ODSP works with about 150 service providers across Ontario.”
March of Dimes has Employment Services in thirteen Ontario cities. Their website says they only help physical disabilities, but this seems not to be the case. Their goal is to help people with disabilities achieve greater independence by providing job training and finding them employment.
A few of the many employment service providers for people with disabilities are Link Up in Toronto, ACE (Achieving Competitive Employment) in Waterloo, and Distinct Programmes Inc. in Ottawa.
Independent Living Canada has IL Centres in twelve Ontario cities/towns. http://www.ilcanada.ca/article/il-centres-across-canada-166.asp
Ottawa Independent Living Resource Centre ILeap Independent Living Employment Assistance Program helps people become ‘work ready’, choose a job path and helps with job search skills, such as resume writing, job interview preparation, job hunting, and job coaching.
The Government of Canada’s Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities funds projects such as the Neil Squire Society Working Together Program, which provides a wage subsidy to employers who hire participants. http://www.neilsquire.ca/individual-programs-services/workingtogether/
REACH Canada is a lawyer referral organization that helps people with all disabilities. Reach lawyers practice in almost every area of law including family, mental health and business. They get calls about varied issues including employment, tax matters, and housing. They also give workshops on such issues as living with a disability, and Employment Equity. www.reach.ca
Models for supportive employment
FOCUS employment program, Burns Lake in interior B.C. is a program of the College of New Caledonia, a specialized employment program for adults affected by FASD. It is offered in a learning environment that is both structured and individualized. Students learn job readiness skills; learn about anger management, stress management, time management, life skills, improve reading, writing and computer skills and communication abilities, gain supported work placement and practical job experience. Classes run Sept – Dec., Jan – June.
Whitecrow Village. Employment. FASD Employment Programs
Whitecrow Village provides positive, stable work experiences for adults with FASD, and fosters in employers and the general public an awareness of the skills and abilities that adults with FASD can bring to their workplaces and communities. It provides an opportunity to work in a milieux that recognises and respects each individual’s needs and helps them to develop their marketable skills.
Whitecrow Village. Employment. Microbusinesses
Involvement in a micro-business – an enterprise having few employees and requiring little start up money – allows a person who cannot work a traditional 9-to-5 shift 5 days a week to have meaningful work and to generate an income. Ideal for a team of people with FASD. http://www.whitecrowvillage.org/employment/micro_businesses.html
Families with disabilities working together
In the U.S. FASD Communities, a non-profit organization based in Honolulu, is working to develop employment skills training programs with partners who understand the brain difference of persons with FASD, teach vocational skills comparable with their abilities and interests, demonstrate behaviours that will help them maintain their employment and cultivate relationships with adult mentors. www.fasdcommunities.com
FASD Employment resources
Alberta.ca FASD Learning and Resources FASD Learning Series
2010-02-11 Enhancing Employability for Persons with FASD
How FASD affects the brain, types of jobs suited to people affected by FASD, and things employers should know. Download Handout (PDF 492 KB)
Presenter: Annette Cutknife, Brian Mader and Daniel Cutknife Length: 88 mins
2010-03-11 Employability Strategies for Persons with FASD
Employment issues and strategies and challenges of change or transition for persons with FASD.
Download Handout (PDF 299 KB)
Presenter: Brian Mader and Annette Cutknife Length: 110 mins
Alberta.ca What works: career-building strategies for people from diverse groups. A Counsellor Resource. Persons with Developmental Disabilities. “Focusing on Employment” p. 10-14 https://alis.alberta.ca/pdf/cshop/whatworks/ww_developmentaldisabilities.pdf
Regina Community Clinic. Welcoming employees with FASD into your workplace. Helping adults with FASD. Regina Community Clinic and OLES Literacy Project. 2010.
Guide to help employers begin to understand FASD; to help reduce the stigma of FASD; and to suggest practical strategies. Includes the importance of clear language, support and training, job carving (taking duties from several jobs), mentoring, job coaching, job shadowing, disclosing a disability. http://library.copian.ca/item/9703
Rutman, Deborah, Corey La Berge and Donna Wheway. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and Employment. Supporting Adults with FASD on the Job. FAS/E Support Network of B.C., School of Social Work, University of Victoria, 2004. Book and DVD (34 minutes). Featuring six adults living with FASD, focuses on some of the employment related experiences and challenges.
Books available from Mina Marketplace http://mingamarketplace.com
Southern California FASD Information & Support Network. Special FASD Issues. Job Training /
Helping FASD-affected teens and adults to be successful in the workplace; Problems persons with FASD may have with employment; How parents and caregivers can help. https://sites.google.com/site/socalfasdnetwork/fasd-and-social-issues/job-training-employment
Tim Hortons Hires People with Disabilities.
“Hiring people with disabilities often doesn’t require adding accommodation measures and can boost the profit of a business, says Mark Wafer, Tim Hortons franchisee…
“Very quickly after I hired Clint I realized he was my best employee,” says Wafer who now owns seven Tim Hortons locations in Ontario [Toronto] …
Wafer hired 91 people with disabilities (PWD) including 41 now employed in his workforce of 210. He has also become a vocal advocate for more inclusive employment in Canada….”
Wood, Megan. “Employment: Reconciling dreams with reality” Questions and Answers. Living with FASD Fall 2008 FAS support network of Saskatchewan. Question: How can you encourage someone with FASD to follow their employment and education dreams, while at the same time keeping in mind what that individual is capable of doing and the support they will need?
Yellowknife Association for Community Living. FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder). A Practical Guide for Employers.
Handbook to help employers understand individuals affected by FASD and to support them at work. http://www.fasdoutreach.ca/files/downloads/FASD-A%20practical%20Guide%20for%20Employers-Final.pdf
Please let us know about examples of suitable housing and employment situations in Ontario and supportive organizations. We are looking for ideas and programs to tell people about . You can also send success stories to the FASD ONE website at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Elspeth Ross, April 2014