Children with autism grow up to become adults with autism. That can be overwhelming for both the autistic young adult and their parents.
That’s why it’s never too early to start thinking about how to balance the autistic adult’s need for independence with the very real possibility that they will need help navigating some of the complex decisions that every adult has to make.
If you’re looking ahead and wondering how to handle the future with your autistic child, here are some of your options:
You can operate as your adult child’s advocate several different ways, using different arrangements as needed. For example, if your child receives Social Security Disability, you can ask to be their representative payee. That will give you the right to handle the benefits and communicate with the agency in your child’s place.
This is the most minimally-invasive way to assist an adult with autism and is usually only appropriate when he or she can manage most things without help. It may be frustrating, however, to have to make separate agreements for every situation.
2. Powers of attorney
Power of attorney documents can be drafted to give you the ability to make decisions regarding your adult child’s health and finances. This is often a good compromise that straddles the line between giving an adult with autism full independence and asking for guardianship.
This option is most appropriate when an adult with autism can handle some decisions alone. However, you to be available to step if your child is unable to manage things. The drawback is that your child can revoke your authority at will — which could create unexpected problems.
Guardianship can give you the right to make all the decisions for an autistic adult child — including those involving medical care, living situations, and even whether or not they can marry.
Guardianship is the most restrictive option, so it is only appropriate for an autistic adult who is unable to function independently at all.
Naturally, this is a part of your special needs planning that has to be handled carefully. If possible, adult children should be involved in the decision so that they are comfortable with the long-term solution.