When someone turns 18 years of age, they are now considered a legal adult. With or without disabilities, individuals are now legally able to make their own decisions.
As an individual with an intellectual/developmental disability (I/DD), this may seem like a welcomed responsibility or it may seem very scary. To make your own decisions means deciding, for example, where you want to live, how you want to manage your money, making health care decisions, who you want to marry or not, and much more. It does not mean you have to make your decisions without help. Many of us, disability or not, have help in making our decisions. We ask family, friends, and other people we trust for help when need to. Needing help does not mean that you are not able to make a decision; it just means you may need someone to help you understand all of your options. Most people have this help available and do not need a guardian.
As a parent or interested party, having someone with or without an I/DD turn 18 and become a legal adult expected to be able to make all kinds of decisions, this may be welcomed or scary or a mixture of both. For all of their lives, you have made decisions for them and now it is no longer your right. It is important to realize this however and to think about what help they do need, if any, in making decisions.
If you are considering applying for guardianship for someone and need assistance in determining if it is the right course of action, please feel free to call our office. The Arc of Adams County does not take on guardianships or assist people in applying for guardianships, but we will talk to you and help you to understand more about guardianship.
The following is a position statement taken from the Arc of the United States and the Arc of Colorado:
“Guardianship is considered when an individual other than a minor has been determined incapacitated. Determining if someone is unable to make decisions is a difficult process. In general, this means that someone is unable to effectively receive or evaluate information or both or make or communicate decisions to such an extent that the individual lacks the ability to satisfy essential requirements for physical health, safety or self care, even with appropriate and reasonable available assistance.” (CRS. 12-14-102(5))
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF
How can the person make their own decisions?
What kind of assistance do they need? How do they communicate best?
What kind of information can they understand?
Can they make decisions – even if you don’t like their decisions?