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Guardianship for vulnerable child a labor of love

As Kent readers may know, caring for a child with special needs can pose great challenges for even the most dedicated parents. Those challenges multiply as a vulnerable child transitions into adulthood.

With certain types of disorders, a child's need for ongoing care into adulthood may be obvious. In other cases, though, as one mother tells, the choice to intervene in a child's life can be a genuine labor of love when it comes to more subtle conditions such as autism.

This devoted mother struggled with the decision to seek legal guardianship over her son. Like any proud parent, she refused to deny her son's true potential and never gave up hope that her son might be able to overcome his personal challenges and achieve true independence.

Ultimately, this mother knew that she would have to take the difficult step of having her son declared legally incompetent. Even though her son showed signs of intelligence while graduating fourth in his high school class, the mother also knew that his inability to communicate in a traditional fashion could present a lifelong obstacle to his capacity for independent living. She knew that her son's limited ability to appreciate the consequences of his choices might lead him to forego many opportunities.

In the role of guardian, this mother acts as her son's voice to the public. She ensures that he receives needed healthcare, manages his finances and continues to be his teacher. The mother struggled with the decision to take away some of her son's freedoms by assuming guardianship, but she knows that her difficult choice offers the greatest hope that her son will someday be able to live for himself.

Kent residents concerned about the care of a special needs child transitioning into adulthood should know that tough decisions need not be made alone. Caring and experienced attorneys stand ready to help you through a difficult time.

Source: Autism Support Network, "Guardianship and autism," Liz Becker, Sept. 9, 2012

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