One of the biggest challenges our youth with FASD face is becoming productive and contributing members of our society as adults. While school can be very challenging, it can provide structure and strategies for success when informed educators and medical personnel are working in collaboration. During that transition into adulthood, though, the individual with FASD experiences huge changes to their routines and structure. For an adult with FASD, we have seen when a community with housing and employment opportunities, positive outcomes can be achieved . Amongst the seven adults with FASD within our membership, we have confirmed what the research says. When someone with FASD has a stable home with external support and a steady occupation, positive outcomes can be achieved. When one of these three elements are missing, life can become very challenging.
Just like any adult, most adults with FASD want to live somewhere else besides their parent’s home. However, it must be an interdependent model as explained by CanFASD’s paper on housing and homelessness. This model exists in various places including 360 Kids and Participation House in Markham. It basically consists of having people with disabilities living in an open and inclusive community consisting of their service providers and other members of the public. This is why the Rural FASD Support Network is supporting the endeavor that Cornerstone Landing and Redwood Homes are proposing in terms of a rural housing model. Cornerstone Landing is proposing a tiny home village where homeless youth, seniors, members of the public, a community hall and an administrative office are all located together. Within this village, a supporting municipality is key. Current codes make this model impossible and require changes at the municipal level. Having a gathering place for the residents which is ran by the municipality for insurance and maintenance purposes is also key for building the village into a community. One of the big advantages a tiny home provides over an apartment is cost and sensory processing. For someone with FASD, these are huge considerations. Instead of having a huge lump sum cost at the beginning for all funding partners, it could be done in small increments. However, there are challenges to this model based on current legislature. This is why we have partnered with Yuergen Beck of Redwood Homes and Cornerstone Landing to lend an additional voice in exploring these challenges and finding solutions. These challenges include no specific code related to tiny homes or any regulation related to how they are built.
Having a home and supportive community is not enough. In the three earlier examples, work opportunities are also provided. Work provides that same self-esteem, structure and purpose that people with FASD crave. However, our current system is creating obstacles. There are limited incentives for employers to invest in hiring people with FASD. As a result, it is not encouraged to even state the existence of FASD during the hiring process which leaves both the employer and individual at a disadvantage. Finally, when you consider that someone with FASD has a 74% likelihood of being unemployed compared to the national average of 6%, we need to build a system that encourages hiring people with FASD rather than sending them to social assistance. As our adults with FASD will tell you, they have unique strengths that can benefit our economy. Within the adults of the Rural FASD Support Network, we have a baker, a horse trainer, a dishwasher, a tent installer, a homemaker, a musician, and a computer programmer. However, we also have several unemployed individuals looking for work that is sustainable for them and youth who can’t get into college because of the theory requirements. While hands-on work is a strength for them, the lack of apprenticeship opportunities removes that possibility.
In our pursuit of inclusivity within our society, when adults with FASD have support, structure and purpose, they too become valuable contributors to our society. We are thrilled to have Yuergen Beck, Shelley More, Karen Huber, Cassie More, and Rick Graham come with us on Feb 24 and share their expertise. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.