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Understanding Guardianship in New York

April 30th, 2013

A guardian is one who is legally entitled to make decisions for another person, such as financial and medical decisions. Guardians are typically appointed for adults with special needs or seniors, when they are unable to care for themselves. In the state of New York, there are two separate processes: Article 17A guardianship is typically used for a developmentally disabled individual and Article 81 guardianship is typically used for a person needing assistance with personal care or financial matters, such as an older person with a progressive illness.

Article 17A Guardianship

When a child with special needs reaches the age of 18, parents will no longer have the right to make decisions for that person, unless an Article 17A guardianship proceeding has been completed. This type of guardianship grants broad authority similar to that held by parents for minor children. A good candidate for an Article 17A guardianship would be a developmentally disabled child approaching the age of 18 whose mental capability is similar to a much younger child.

This type of guardianship was created by Article 17-A of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act. It is granted by county Surrogate Courts. If the person needing a guardian is under the age of 18, then the court in the county where the guardian lives is used; otherwise the court in the county where the disabled person lives is used.

Obtaining this type of guardianship is relatively simple. Either two doctors or a doctor and a psychologist must certify that the disabled person needs a guardian. The guardian must also provide information about his or her prior residences. The disabled person and his or her spouse (if any), other parent (if only one parent is seeking guardianship), and any adult siblings are all served with guardianship papers, and a court hearing is held to determine whether guardianship will be granted.

Article 81 Guardianship

When an adult is no longer able to make important life decisions or tend to everyday needs, due to an accident or illness, an Article 81 guardianship may be appropriate. This type of guardianship grants specific, individualized powers to the guardian, according to the needs of the disabled person. This type of guardianship is often used in the case of an older person with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.

This type of guardianship was created by Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law. It is granted by county Supreme Courts, and is based on the concept of the least restrictive alternative, meaning that only specific types of authority are granted, tailored to the particular needs of the incapacitated person.

In deciding Article 81 guardianship, the court is required to consider alternatives that may better suit the needs of the individual, such as a nursing home, assisted living facility or visiting home health aides to meet the person’s daily needs, or a trustee or payee to handle financial matters. The court may appoint a guardian if it determines that the person cannot provide for personal needs or manage property and financial matters without a guardian and the person is incapacitated or agrees to the guardianship. In the case of a person suffering from the earlier stages of a progressive disease, a court can grant a guardian limited powers that can later be expanded through a modification order.

To learn more, visit www.elderlawnewyork.com or www.specialneedsnewyork.com.


The Great Bike Giveaway

April 22nd, 2013

Our friends over at Friendship Circle, a non-profit organization that provides programs and support to the families of individuals with special needs, will be holding their second annual Great Bike Giveaway (April 15 – May 12) — a national contest that donates adaptive bikes to children with special needs. Winners will be drawn on May 13, 2013.

The Great Bike Giveaway is partnering with adaptive bike companies (click here to read more about these bike sponsors) from around the country to donate top of the line adaptive bikes to children and young adults who need them the most. The

How to Participate:

1. Browse through the five types of bikes available and select a bike that will best fit your child’s needs, from there you can also choose the bike drawing you would like to submit for.

2. The bike pages have a space where you can enter the contest. Submit a picture of your child with special needs along with a short explanation (250 character maximum) about why this child needs an adaptive bike.

3. Once the submission has been approved, the participant must be nominated by 50 friends and family members to be entered in the drawing. On each bike page, the name and picture of all submitted entries will be listed. From here, you  can click on the picture and nominate them or share the page amongst your own contacts to encourage more nominations or votes.

4. A drawing will be held to determine the winners. Only those with 50 nominations will be eligible. An additional five special Director’s Choice winners will be chosen by a panel of judges based solely on the content of their submission.

Additionally, non-participants can donate money towards adding more bikes to raffle off. On each bike sponsor page there will be an option to donate towards adding an additional bike to the giveaway. Every time the sum reaches the top of the meter another bike is added.

For rules and regulations about this giveaway, click here. To read more about the Great Bike Giveaway, visit their official website at: https://friendshipcircle.org/bikes/.


Early Warning Signs of Autism: When to Get Your Child Evaluated

April 2nd, 2013

By: Giulia Frasca, Esq.

April is Autism Awareness Month, a time to raise public consciousness about autism and autism spectrum disorders, complex disorders that affect brain development and a person’s ability to communicate, learn and form relationships.  Tuesday, April 2, 2013 is World Autism Awareness Day, initiated by Autism Speaks, a day where organizations around the world will be recognizing autism and autism spectrum disorders in various ways such as shining a blue light upon a famous landmark, or distributing multi-color puzzle piece ribbons.

With new research and facts being reported, it is important for everyone, especially new parents, to be aware of the early warning signs of autism spectrum disorders.  Autism spectrum disorder now affect one in every 50 children, well above the one in 88 previously reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  According to the study, 1 million children nationally are diagnosed with autism.  These findings, recently released by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration and the Centers for Disease Control are sparking debate.  While experts attribute the increase to better reporting, it also suggests that the disorder is being diagnosed more frequently in children with milder symptoms.  Some suggest that the new statistic underestimates the number of persons actually affected by the disorder and should be a wake up call to further fund research, specialized treatment and education for persons with autism spectrum disorders.

Appropriate screening can determine whether a child is at risk for autism as early as twelve months.  While every child’s development is unique, it is proven that early treatment improves outcomes, often dramatically.  For example, studies show that early intensive behavioral intervention improves learning, communication and social skills in young children with autism spectrum disorders.

One of the most important things for parents and caregivers to do is to be familiar with typical developmental milestones that an infant should be meeting and learn the early signs of autism spectrum disorders.

If your child exhibits any of the following warning signs, ask your pediatrician or family practitioner for an evaluation as soon as possible:

  1. No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter;
  2. No exchange of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months;
  3. No babbling by 12 months;
  4. No exchange of gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving by 12 months;
  5. No words by 16 months;
  6. No meaningful two-word phrases by 24 months;
  7. Any loss of speech, babbling, or social skills at any age.

The nonprofit organization, Autism Speaks, offers helpful information and tools for families affected by autism spectrum disorders.  One tool available on the site is the M-CHAT (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers), which can help determine if your child should be professionally evaluated.  You can find it by following this link: http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/diagnosis/screen-your-child.

If you suspect that your child has an autism spectrum disorder, talk to your doctor as soon as possible so that an evaluation can be conducted and services and treatment can begin as soon as possible.

For more information, visit www.specialneedsnewyork.com.

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