Supported Decision Making and Special Needs Teens

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Supported Decision Making and Special Needs Teens

Supported Decision Making and Special Needs Teens | Los Angeles Education

While so much of the legal aspect of special needs individuals focuses on children these days, teenagers are also desperately in need of advice, help, and resources as they look toward adulthood. Teenagers need to learn how to make wise decisions for their lives in order for them to have the most freedom in adulthood. Guardianship is turned to so quickly these days in order to protect special needs individuals as they move from the teen years into adulthood. However, this somewhat restrictive legality may not always be necessary for teenagers who use supported decision-making. In fact, supported decision-making is a great tool for adults of all ages who struggle with disabilities.

In general, supported decision-making gives people with disabilities the knowledge and skills that they need to make excellent decisions regarding all aspects of their lives, including everyday as well as major decisions. Those who can make their own decisions feel empowered when they go out into the world and generally have a better outlook on life than do those who have their decisions made for them by a guardian.

Putting Children on the Path to Good Habits

Special education teenagers can begin down the path of supported decision-making with the help of their parents and can continue these habits well into adulthood. The most basic step that parents can take is to give of their time as they share their experience with their teenagers while gradually letting teenagers make some of their own decisions. Once teenagers reach the age of 18, they should be allowed to help choose where they will live and work, what they will do in their free time, whether they will go to college and where they will receive medical care. This ability to choose often helps special needs individuals feel as if they are a part of their communities.

At Newman Aaronson Vanaman, our team of attorneys can help guide Los Angeles County families as they determine whether their teenagers will need guardians when they turn 18 or whether they will be able to make it smoothly through life using supported decision-making and the informal help of family and friends. Other options that may be less restrictive than full guardianships include healthcare proxies or powers-of-attorney, and we can help with these possibilities as well. Should guardianship be necessary, we can provide the legal representation that families will need as they file with the state.
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