Kelly Harding, PhD; Katherine Flannigan, PhD, R. Psych; Audrey McFarlane, MBA; Dorothy Reid, MA; Marsha Wilson, MA
In Article 23 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, it is
stated that all persons with disabilities have the right to decide freely whether or not to
become parents, and to have access to information and resources that support this right.
However, it is often difficult for persons with developmental disabilities to exercise their right
to parent, even when compared to other disability groups. There is some evidence about
the challenges and needs of parents with developmental disabilities in general, but very few
studies have been focused specifically on the concerns of parents with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum
Disorder (FASD). Recognizing this significant gap, researchers have been calling for more
investigation into this area for the last two decades.
The purpose of this paper is to summarize the limited available literature about parents with
FASD and to provide recommendations for future research, practice, and policy directions.
It is generally assumed that, like most adults, many individuals with FASD will have children of
their own. In Streissguth et al.’s seminal work in the 1990s exploring the adverse
outcomes experienced by a large group of individuals with FASD in the United States (US), 28%
of females and 10% of males over 12 years of age had one or more child. Of these children,
less than 50% were still in the care of their parent, which is not uncommon for children of
parents with disabilities. Compared to non-parents with FASD in this study, parents with
FASD were more likely to have experienced challenges with unstable housing and
homelessness, domestic violence, disrupted school experiences, trouble with the law, and
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