Disability Rights NC Special Education Perspective

Student with disabilities — Parents need to think twice before seeking guardianship when the student turns 18

About the author

Corye Dunn is the director of public policy at Disability Rights North Carolina.

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  • Stephen Schofield

    Interesting perspective. Guardianship doesn’t end at 18. As a parent of two disabled children (autism) one has been deemed to be unable to care for herself. Her ability to recognize her responsibility to society is extremely limited and therefore she is in care for her own safety and security. The other child is currently attending university and maintaining a 3.0 level, but is unable to get work. The reason is simple. She isn’t covered by the available support but is also not able to make the connection yet to the real world. I know many like her.

  • Janet Price-Ferrell

    Thanks for this information, too many parents see guardianship as being the parent forever when really the guardian is supposed to help the person make decisions. Too much misinformation out there and the schools are one of the sources.

  • Unfortunately, this appears to be a myopic view of the issue- only addressing making a decision within an environment that is designed to assist the child.

    Guardianship is not just about making school choices, it’s about all choices, all day, everywhere. Someone calls on the phone and asks the child for information- they’ll answer without knowing about scams and larger issues. Medical decisions. Banking decisions. Sign on the dotted line decisions.

    Not having guardianship leaves EVERYTHING else up to the child who may numerically be 18, but developmentally is still a child. You don’t want a 9 year old answering the door and agreeing to pay thousands for a home warranty from a door-to-door salesperson. You don’t want them signing up for every credit card offer that gets mailed to them. Then using those cards to buy whatever they’re interested in, not understanding the larger financial issues. It’s SO easy to get into a bad spot.

    For those who DO have higher developmental capability, guardianship will most often mean the guardian signs, but the child DOES have input and in most cases, decision making capability. We ask what they want, and then facilitate it. But guardianship protects them from the world that is NOT out to help them. The world is a lot bigger than EDU. That’s why guardianship exists.

  • Bonnie Jean Smith Author

    In Minnesota you can always have a conservator or guardianship plan with “Person Centered Thinking and Planning in place. So if you are no longer around these practices are written into the plan and therefore must be followed. If “Person Centered Thinking and Planning” are in place the individual does have the right to drive their lives it only puts into place steps the person needs to take before making a huge decision; buying a car, signing a legal document, agreeing to surgery that is not necessary etc…. I agree with Anthony it is about the major decisions.