Autism Law and Advocacy

Autism Law and Advocacy

As a parent or loved one of an autistic child or adult child, are you facing unique circumstances that you need assistance with? Receiving a new diagnosis can be overwhelming and confusing. If you are just starting out with a new diagnosis, Attorney Erika Cappiello can assist you with navigating the unique challenges of having a child on the spectrum. 

Alternatives to Guardianship  There may be alternatives to guardianship to consider when your child is nearing their eighteenth birthday.  If you choose not to file a guardianship for your child when they reach the age of 18, you can consider alternatives.  These would include powers of attorney, healthcare directives and proxies, limited guardianship, conservatorship, appointment of advocate with governmental agencies, joint bank account amongst others.  Depending on your child’s needs and challenges, the different options can be discussed to help you and your family decide what is in the best interest of your child.  Something to consider is needs and challenges can change and the various options can be considered and reconsidered at any time.  

Dispute Resolution – Attorney Erika Cappiello can help resolve any issues that you are experiencing as it relates to your autistic child.  Everything from discussing options and strategy to assisting with letter writing and advocacy.  Mediation assistance and attendance can also help resolve any dispute or issue you may be facing.  Contact Cappiello Law to discuss the issues you are facing and the various resolutions available to you and your family. 

Guardianship – depending on their needs and challenges, you may want to consider filing a guardianship on their behalf.  When a child turns eighteen years old, in the eyes of the law, they are considered an adult and their decisions can dramatically impact their life unless a guardianship is filed and a guardian is appointed.  There are different types of guardianships.  A guardianship can be over the person and/or over the property and estate.  It’s important to address this option prior to your child turning eighteen.  You can file one over their person, over their property or over both.  Without a guardianship, any decisions they make with money and property will stand.  Some important things to think about when deciding if your child needs a guardianship at the age of 18 include the following:  can they make their own prudent decisions with money?  Can they make their own decisions with medical treatment and know how to handle, address and make decisions with serious medical issues or hospital stays?  Can they make their own prudent decisions with regards to where they live and their residence?  It’s important as a parent to know that at your 18 year old with autism, if a guardianship is not established, can sign their name to a contract or hand over money to someone and there is nothing you can do.  Additionally, medical decisions must be abided by with doctors and hospitals.  Also, an adult can walk out of school or work without providing details about their destination and there is nothing you can do to stop them.  However, as their legal guardian once they reach the age of 18, you will have a legal say as to these important items and others.  

Healthcare Directive – Many children, with or without disabilities, will continue to need parental assistance after they reach the age of 18.  Once a cild turns 18, some parents are shocked when they are informed that their ability to make decisions regarding their child’s medical care amongst other important things will now be fully the responsibility of their adult child.  For children on the spectrum, depending on their needs, there are options to consider such as guardianships, powers of attorney and healthcare directives and proxies.  Advanced directives and healthcare proxies can allow your adult child to designate a health care agent to make health care related decisions for them. 

IEP Attendance – Cappiello Law can assist you with planning for and participation at your child’s IEP appointment.  Assistance can include planning for the appointment to best address the most important needs and challenges of your child on the spectrum.  Additionally, Attorney Erika Cappiello can attend the IEP with you upon request.  The IEP appointment is an important face to face moment with your child’s school, teachers and the administration.  Be sure you are maximizing and coordinating all efforts for the educational benefit of your child.

Legal Challenges & Strategy – There are many unique opportunities and challenges that parents face on behalf of their children on the spectrum.  Attorney Erika Cappiello understands this first hand.  Through her pro-bono efforts with Lawyers for Children she has represented the child client with zealous efforts.  She can sit down with you and your family to discuss any legal challenges you are having and can assist with various strategies on how to best work through them for the most positive outcome possible.   

Mediation – This is an opportunity to sit down with various parties to resolve a dispute.  It’s used as a tool with litigation and outside of litigation.  When both sides are seeking to resolve an issue and are wiling to sit down with a neutral third party to assist the parties, it can be an amicable way to work through whatever issues and disputes you or your family are facing.  Attorney Erika Cappiello can help you prepare for an upcoming mediation as well as attend with you or on your behalf.   

Power of Attorney – This is an alternative to a filing a guardianship case.  It’s a written document that gives you the power to act on behalf of your adult child to make legal and financial decisions on their behalf.  This can greatly assist your adult child with handling various business matters they made assistance with.  This document can be customized to meet the specific needs of your adult child.