Guardian Advocate-Legal Help When an Autistic or Intellectually Disabled Child Turns 18.
Eighteen years old is the age of legal majority in Florida. It is the age when parents lose their legal authority to make medical, legal, educational and financial decisions for their children. However children with autism or intellectual disability often still need some degree of assistance and support in these matters. They also need protection from some who might try to take advantage of them.
Chapter 393 of the Florida Statutes provides for the appointment of one or both parents to become the guardian advocates of their children. Many parents naturally feel ambivalent or fear that becoming a guardian advocate may discourage independence or make their child feel bad. The guardian advocate is tailored to the child’s strengths and empowers the parents to assist only when necessary. Most times when the parent explains the guardian advocate to their child, they are surprised to learn their child is in
The procedure involves the filing of a Petition for Appointment of Guardian Advocate, Application and Oath by the parent, as well as a physician’s note attesting to the diagnosis of autism or intellectual disability. The last step is attending a hearing in front of a magistrate or judge, who signs the Letters of Guardian Advocate. This document provides all or some of the legal authority parents had before their child turned eighteen. Having such authority does not compel the parent to use it, if their child can handle his/her own affairs in any specific instance.
While autism and intellectual disability are the most common reasons for applying for Guardian Advocate, this procedure is also available for parents of children with Spina Bifida or Prader-Willi Syndrome.
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