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Guardianship For Autistic Son

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Caring for an Autistic child, part 1

Whether you choose guardianship or a set of legal agreements that allow you to make decisions on your adult child’s behalf when necessary, it’s always a good idea to take some steps to protect your child. While this is particularly true if your adult child is autistic, it’s also true if your child is neurotypical. After all, you never know when an unexpected need might come up.

Building A Bridge Over The Autism Cliff

When faced with a sudden reduction or loss of services, parents of autistic children must build a bridge over that gap. And they may not always have the information and resources needed to construct it, which leaves them unsure about what to do next.

Fortunately, my sons experience has been different due to the charter school for autism he attends. His school, Lakeland STAR School/Academy, was by a group of dedicated parents, educational professionals, and community members and supported by generous donors. STAR serves diverse learners in grades 712 and has a transitions-focused curriculum.

However, because autism rates continue to rise, the school has seen tremendous growth. As space to enroll new students became limited, a need for a separate transitions program emerged.

To address this need, Lakeland STAR is now developing a transitions center with the help of community-based organizations, including Aspirus Health, Lakeland Union High School , the Howard Young Foundation , and the HYF Womens Legacy Council.

Scheduled to open in the fall of 2022, the center will offer transitions-based education, including independent living skills, job skills training, and related services. The new center will help my son and other autistic young adults bridge the gap over the autism cliff and into the adult world.

Why Do You Need Adult Guardianship For Your Special Needs Child In Arizona

It probably seems kind of ridiculous that in Arizona, as the parent of a special needs adult child, you need to be named the court-ordered guardian in order to continue acting as your childs parent.

All adults have privacy rights. Your special needs adult child has those rights as well. This is why, in Arizona, you need a court-ordered guardianship. You are taking away your childs privacy rights .

The guardianship system is designed to support your desire to serve as guardian. As long as you are a decent human being, who has your childs best interest at heart, you will be set.

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Iep Transitions And Approaching The Autism Cliff

Like many autistic students in the United States, my sons educational journey from pre-school to high school graduation was mapped out with an Individualized Educational Program . An IEP is a legally binding document developed and instituted when a child meets the public schools criteria for specialized education.

This document outlines the childs needs and designs an educational program to meet those needs best, whether through speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, or the addition of support people like paraprofessionals to assist the child throughout the day.

With an IEP in place, a childs educational journey does not have to end at 18. Instead, the young person and their parents can decide to continue attending school up to age 21.

This 1821 period is considered one of transitions and is designed to shift the young person from educational-centered to adult-oriented learning. Much of this includes teaching independent living and job skills.

In the United States, statistics suggest that 500,000 young adults with autism will transition into adulthood over the next 5 years.

Unfortunately, many schools dont have the resources to develop transitions programs that fully address the needs of autistic students entering the adult world.

Furthermore, even if a transitions program exists, it may not cover all the gaps in services that suddenly occur when the child reaches 18 years old. Parents often refer to this sudden loss of services as the autism cliff.

Where Do I Go For Assistance

Pin by Avanel Shelbourne on Autism : My son and I greatest Challenge in ...

In Ohio, there is a lawyer referral service in each metropolitan area, operated by the local bar association. Also, you may refer to the Yellow Pages of your local telephone directory. Check the Yellow Pages under associations or attorney referral services.

You may also contact your local legal aid office to see if you qualify for free legal services. You can get a list of organizations in Ohio that provide free or low cost legal services or referrals in your county. To access your local legal services program, call Ohio Legal Aid at 1-866-529-6446.

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Who Should Be Named As Guardian

States usually have a preference for persons to be named guardian. For children with disabilities who turn 18, the preference is usually for the parents, or if parents are not available, an adult sibling or other adult family member. If no family members are able to serve as guardian, then a close friend. And if no friends are available, then the court can appoint a professional guardian.

Guardians are subject to court supervision, which provides a powerful tool to prevent the guardian from mishandling the persons finances or taking advantage of them. Sometimes, especially with professional guardians, the guardian must post a bond .

In some cases, guardians can be reimbursed for their expenses and paid for their services from the assets of the person they are taking care of. Generally payments are made only to professional guardians, but a family member who has been appointed as guardian may, depending on state law, also seek compensation by making a request to the court.

When a guardian can no longer serve, the guardianship itself does not end. Rather, a new guardian is appointed by the court. In the case with a parent of a child with a disability, as the parent ages, he or she may no longer be able to care for their child. The guardian should consider who would replace him should he no longer be able to serve.

Utilizing Article 81 Guardianship In New York For Those Diagnosed With Autism Spectrum Disorder

After years of working with the parents of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder , I have learned that ASD refers to a range of Neurodevelopment disorders which most frequently manifest themselves as both verbal and non verbal communication difficulties, social impairments and repetitive, restricted and stereotyped patterns of behavior. Autism or classical ASD is the most severe form of ASD. Milder forms of ASD include Aspergers syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified . 1

It has been estimated that 1 out of every 88 children age 8 will have an ASD, and that males are four times as likely to have an ASD than females.2 ASD effects people of all races, ethnicity and socio-economic groups. Sadly, there is no known cure for ASD at this time, however much progress has been made in diagnosing ASD, potential genetic predispositions for ASD and the treatment of ASD though the use of early behavioral and educational intervention programs.

In deciding whether or not to seek legal guardianship and what form of guardianship is most suitable for the ASD child in question there a number of factors to be considered.

While the minors parents are the legal guardians of the minors person and can make decisions relevant to his or her person, it is generally when the minor child has inherited or recovered monies that he or she will require a guardianship for his or her property.9

1. Make gifts

5. Marshall Assets

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How To Help Stop Guardianship Laws

There are a lot of different ways that you can help stop guardianship laws!

  • You can help your state pass a law about supported decision-making agreements. In a supported decision-making agreement, you agree to get help making decisions from a person or a group of people you trust. The government agrees to let these people help you. They are then called your supporters. They do not make decisions for you. You can tell them to stop at any time. Sometimes you sign a form with your supporters that lets banks, stores, and hospitals know your agreement exists. We talk more about supported decision-making agreements in Supported Decision-making: Why the Right to Make Choices With Support Matters.
  • Work in your state to end the use of guardianship laws that discriminate against people with intellectual disabilities. Work with your state officials and state legislature to eliminate laws that create forms of guardianship just for people with intellectual disabilities. These laws are dangerous and discriminatory.

You can work with ASAN to draw attention to guardianship abuse. Abuse in guardianship happens every single day, in every state. Use social media, emails, and other tools to spread the word about guardianship abuse cases in your state.


Proxies And Powers Of Attorney

What happens when autistic kids become adults?

Health proxies and powers of attorney are legal documents that provide one adult with the ability to act for and make decisions for another adult. Many people have powers of attorney and health proxies “just in case” they become unable to make decisions for themselves.

For example, what if you happen to be on a cruise when an important document needs to be signed? Or if you are unconscious after a car accident and unable to make decisions about medical care? In such cases, health proxies and powers of attorney grant the right to take action or make decisions on one’s behalf to an individual of their choosing.

When an adult with autism can make some decisions on their own but needs help with others, health proxies and powers of attorney are often used as a substitute for guardianship. These arrangements offer a compromise, as they avoid stripping the individual of their rights as an adult, which can leave them vulnerable to legal challenges or abuse.

Along with a Special Needs Trust to protect the child’s money and a Representative Payee to accept and manage Social Security payments, these documents may be enough to ensure a child’s well-being.

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Ncsa Position Statement On Guardianship

At age 18, an individual reaches the age of majority, the legally defined age at which a person is considered an adult. Because many adults with severe autism lack competence to make their own legal, medical and other decisions, states offer guardianship proceedings in which a person or organization is appointed by the court to assume those responsibilities. Guardianship provides severely autistic adults with the legally enforceable and judicially monitored protections they need to ensure their interests are being met. Guardianships vary from state to state in many they can be narrowly crafted based on the specific incapacities of the disabled individual.

Guardians have an enforceable legal duty to act in their wards best interests, including considering their preferences before rendering decisions over medical, psychiatric, behavioral, financial and other aspects of care as authorized by the court.

Alternatives to guardianship are sometimes appropriate for other populations. For example, if an adult has cognitive capacity to delegate particular decisions via power of attorney, that instrument may enable the appointed individual to make sound medical and/or contractual decisions on behalf of the person with a disability.

Guardians provide an invaluable role in maximizing the quality of life of severely autistic individuals, and NCSA supports guardianship as a fundamental protection for this vulnerable population.

Adopted by NCSA Board of Directors December 10, 2018

Legal Guardianshit: What Parents Of Adults With Autism Need To Know

If you have a child with autism, you may be wondering what happens when my child turns 18 and becomes a legal adult?What if they cannot make their own medical and financial decisions or read beyond elementary school level, much less understand and fill out forms most of us are routinely faced with? What if they havent recovered by 18 and cant fully communicate, drive, make food, or take care of themselves? If they are not able to vote or own a firearm like most adults are entitled to at 18 as part of their civil rights, is there something as a parent that I need to do? The answer to these questions is a big fat yes! And the legal process is yet even more buffoonery that you as a parent/legal guardian get to deal with. It would be great if there were an automatic exemption from the process for our kids, but there is not. So this is what currently exists. Allow me to share our lovely experience with you so you will know a bit about what to expect when that joyous day arrives.

Guardianship is a special legal relationship between two people created by the court. Guardianship trumps power of attorney. The guardian is given the legal authority to make decisions for another person who is unable to make these decisions for himself. The guardian is expected to ensure the safety of the person under guardianship, make their medical decisions, and if they are guardians of their estate, manage their money.

~ Oracle

For more by Oracle, click here.

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Legal Guardianship: The Pros And Cons For Your Adult Disabled Child

What happens when your special needs child turns age 18? Its a crucial question faced by every affected parent and family. The answer to the question, and special needs planning, means different things depending upon your states laws. How can you make certain youve done all you legally can to protect your special needs adult child?

Beth Polner Abrahams, Esq.

The first step, in general, is for special needs planning to begin with preparation of your own will which includes what is called an inherited special needs trust to benefit and protect your disabled family members eligibility for government benefits like SSI and Medicaid, provide for future management of the inheritance, and specifically to carry out your wishes for the future care and security of your loved one.

The decision to be appointed your adult childs legal guardian can be as difficult as it is essential. What significance will a guardian appointment have on your adult disabled child?

If you become the legal guardian for your adult disabled child, will this impact his or her civil rights? Can your child vote, marry, or obtain a license to drive? Can he or she get a credit card?

Beth Polner Abrahams is admitted to practice law in New York State, with an office on Long Island. For more information about her law practice go to

Other Legal Approaches To Safeguarding An Adult With Autism


In addition to guardianship, proxies, and powers of attorney, a family may want to consider the other options for ensuring an adult child’s legal and personal safety.

  • You may want to think about appointing a permanent or temporary Guardian or Conservator who is responsible for handling specific decisions. This appointment can be permanent or for a short period of time.
  • You can create a joint bank account in your name and the child’s name.
  • The adult child can create an Appointment of Advocate and Authorization, which allows them to designate someone to advocate on their behalf when interacting with agencies like the Department of Developmental Services , the Department of Human Services , Medicaid, and the local authorities.

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When Is Guardianship The Right Choice

Autism exists on a spectrum, and most of the decisions parents make on behalf of a child can also fall within a wide range. The decision may be easier to make if a child is at one end of the extreme .

However, most people with autism fall somewhere in the middle. For example, they may do well in predictable situations but are unable to cope in unexpected situations or emergencies. Many people with autism are extremely intelligent but would have a hard time determining whether someone asking them to sign a paper really has their best interest in mind.

Assistive Or Supported Living Services

If there are only a few areas where the person needs assistance, there may be programs, providers, or professionals who can assist with just those tasks. For example, if transportation is an issue, there are services available to take the person to and from medical appointments. There are various levels of services available to meet varying levels of need. Usually a case manager can help coordinate services for the person.

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What Are The Powers And Duties Of A Guardian

The court will outline the powers and duties given to the guardian and those powers and duties will be only those necessary to provide for the demonstrated need of the person with a disability .

There are some instances where the guardian must ask special permission from the court like in the case of a life-threatening medical treatment or changes in where the person will live .

The guardian usually must file a regular report with the court. The report allows the court to supervise the guardians actions, to verify the persons needs are being met, and to question whether the guardianship should be modified or terminated. In the case of finances, the guardian must provide a record of everything done with the property under the guardianship order.

If a guardian fails to perform the duties of that position appropriately, she may be removed or subject to other court sanctions.

Guardianship / Conservatorship For Child With Autism

Motivating your child with autism to communicate
  • Posted on Oct 23, 2014

If the autistic person is your natural son, you will not need a guardianship until he approaches adulthood. If your son owns any property or assets you may need to get a conservatorship. Since every guardianship and conservatorship is fact-sensitive, you really need to discuss the case with a local attorney who is experienced in these types of matters. I would not suggest the self-help route if you can afford to get good representation because the paperwork and requirements to be appointed are extensive.

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