Thursday, September 28, 2006

Legal Guardianship

I just got back from Probate Court. Many of you know that I have an autistic son. I had to petition the court for legal guardianship. It was straightforward--I think it is only ever a problem if either (a) the subject in question appears capable of taking care of himself or (b) the subject fights the petition. It can also complicate matters if the subject has considerable financial assets. None of these applied, and everything sailed through. By the end of the hearing, the Judge was in love with Luke--just like everyone else who meets him.

After the hearing Luke asked the judge where he lived. He always asks that. The judge laughed and said: "Now that I won't tell you!" A routine safety precaution, no doubt. Luke also asked: "I saw a judge on the news. Is he real?" This made everyone laugh--but actually I knew what he meant. He knows that some people he sees on television are "real" and some are actors, and he often asks me to make the distinction.

If you have a child with a mental handicap, start thinking about guardianship. Do not wait until he is eighteen. At eighteen, your child can sign to make purchases or enter into other binding contracts. Also, the school could (indeed, probably has to) block you from making decisions on his IEP. With guardianship, his rights in these matters are removed and given to you.

So--it was a good day because it went smoothly but also poignant, in that it was one of those occasions when you can't put off facing cold, hard reality. If you know what I mean.

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