My daughter was in 3rd grade when I was introduced to the concept of guardianship. I was at a conference. The speaker was Dohn Hoyle. I was his session facilitator.
As the session began, I realized I had a lot to learn. I heard words such as “incapacitated person," "ward," and “best interest of the ward."
This was an ah-ha moment. I was paying attention and taking notes:
This part of the session shook me to my core. My mind started racing.
As a family, we have always challenged the status quo. What happens if the courts do not agree with our decisions? Will they presume competence? Do they know there is dignity in risk? Who is the best person to make decisions? My daughter is the best person to make decisions!
My thoughts were spiraling out of control. I started to panic. I knew she would need support to make some decisions, but this could not be the answer.
Then I heard Dohn say there were alternatives to guardianship. I was able to listen again. Dohn shared information about:
As the session came to a close I was feeling better. We had options. We had time to teach self-determination. I had time to learn more.
My daughter is now an adult. Here is what we came up with:
How you support your son or daughter to make decisions is a personal choice. Don’t let others tell you what to do. It is for you and your child to decide.
Just when I thought maybe the “autism thing” was calming down. And that maybe I had a few months to catch my breath before researching everything I needed to know about guardianship before my son turns 18. Wham–another big change brought us back to reality.
Support is out there for families of individuals with disabilities–you just have to ask! Take advantage of the community of others who are going through the same things as your family.