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On the last track, we discussed three aspects of adolescents with FAS. These three aspects of adolescents with FAS included: difficulties; independence with structure; and help for parents.
On this track, we will examine three aspects of clients diagnosed with FAS as they enter adulthood. These three aspects of adult FAS clients include: financial affairs; social skills; and depression.
Three Aspects of Clients with FAS Diagnosis in Adulthood
Aspect #1 - Financial Affairs
Aid can come in the form of protective payees, parents, spouses, friends, or even lawyers. Although many clients are perfectly able to hold paying full time jobs, the specific occupation that they choose should be compliant with the client’s needs and behaviors. FAS clients work well in predictable and structured environments with an understanding and patient employer.
Jeremy, age 32, had developed his own system of checks and balances for coping with his fairly responsible job in the armed services. Jeremy’s father, Richard, expressed pride in his son’s adaptation to the working environment. He stated, “A lot of the credit goes to Jeremy. He’s really pulled himself up. He’s developed a system for doing what he calls ‘work arounds.’ Because he thinks he’s wired a certain way that is different from other people, he finds ways to ‘work around’ his problems.”
Jeremy stated, “Everybody’s wired one way or another—it’s like my brain’s not in the same order as everybody else’s. It’s like I’m wired differently. I can’t remember eight numbers; maybe I can do only four or five. But I just use a Post-It note. I find a way to solve the problem: I write it all down. I had to learn how to do lots of abbreviations to write it all down.”
As you can see, through the support and love of his father, Jeremy was able to develop his own method for handling his disability. Think of your Jeremy. How could he or she work with his or her FAS to better adapt to the working world?
Aspect #2 - Social Skills
Clients with FAS often fail in the workplace because of the social aspects of the work. They are unable to understand inappropriate statements and the reactions of the other people involved. Social skills training and continuing job coaching are frequently needed.
Diana, age 32, was having difficulty adjusting to the work environment due to her lack of social skills. Diana stated, “I’ve had lots of jobs; I’ve had 20 or 30 jobs. I’ve been trying so hard to get along with people and trying to hold a job, but the people are always the problem. People get really annoyed with me. Sometimes I see some problem that needs fixing or something and I make a suggestion and people really get bent out of shape about that. I just can’t ever seem to pin down what makes them so pissed off. I feel really frustrated.”
Although Diana had developed skills to help her succeed in the actual tasks of a job, her social skills kept her from keeping a stable income. Think of your Diana. How are his or her social skills affecting his or her employment?
Technique: Play Acting
Nina and Matt would then advise Diana whether or not her behavior was acceptable. Because of her poor memory, this exercise would be performed many nights a week with personalities being repeated several times. Diana stated, “My mom says that I talk too mean to women. I have to be more careful about how I speak to them. Matt says that when I talk to men, I make myself too friendly and affectionate. He says that being more remote will give me better respect.”
Of course, this exercise requires the client to be living at home and to also have a network of dedicated and supportive family members and friends.
Think of your Diana. Would he or she benefit from “Play Acting”?
Aspect #3 - Depression
Bethany, age 38, had begun to feel depressed about the outlook of her adult life. She stated, “I’m single, living alone and I can’t really find any friends. I am grateful that I can have a good job which I can keep because I know many people with my disorder have problems having a good job. But I am very lonely and I get confused about how to handle life. I don’t know how to do taxes and I don’t always pay bills all the time. My family can be supportive, but they don’t really understand my needs.”
To help clients like Bethany, I suggest using the Advocacy Model in order to provide a constant lifeline. We will discuss this model more thoroughly on the next track.
On this track, we discussed three aspects of clients diagnosed with FAS as they enter adulthood. These three aspects of adult FAS clients included: financial affairs; social skills; and depression.
On the next track, we will present three concepts of the Advocacy Model. These three concepts of the Advocacy Model include: appropriate candidates; inferring needs from behaviors; and identifying limitations and strengths.
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