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Principled Advocacy For Families And Individuals With Disabilities And The Professionals Who Serve Them

Stepping up when a child with special needs turns 18 years of age

On Behalf of | Feb 1, 2022 | Guardianship

As the biological or adoptive parent of a child with special needs, you have had full authority over most everything throughout their life. Even at points where neurotypical children might start exerting their independence and autonomy, your child may still require guidance and support.

It can be difficult to acknowledge the lifelong limitations that your child’s condition may cause. However, you need to have a realistic idea about their potential for living independently before they turn 18 years of age in order to adequately protect them. 

A guardianship may be necessary

The impact of disabling medical conditions is different from person to person. For example, some people with Down Syndrome might eventually live independently and work jobs. Some autistic people will eventually reach the point where they can function entirely on their own. 

Many others will always require more support than other people their age. If your child is about to turn 18, they may not be capable of meeting all of their own needs or making the right decisions for themselves. Pursuing guardianship for your adult child by presenting the courts with documentation about their current limitations on medical conditions will help you protect your child. 

You can continue to have the same authority you do now, making medical, educational and financial decisions that you believe are in their best interests. You may be able to terminate the guardianship later if they reach a point where independent living is an option for them. Obtaining guardianship can help you support a teenager with special needs when they become a legal adult.