Helping a young adult with a developmental disability
Though no adult makes all their decisions, especially important ones, without help, a young adult with a developmental disability may need special help to make decisions and transition to living independently. A limited conservatorship may be one way to help, but there are other options to consider first.
What is a developmental disability
A developmental disability is a disability that
- Begins before a person turns 18
- Continues or can be expected to continue indefinitely
- Is a substantial disability for that person
For example, a developmental disability includes an intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and autism, as well as disabling conditions closely related to intellectual disability but not solely physical in nature.
Substantial disability means the existence of significant functional limitations in three or more of the following areas of major life activity, as determined by a regional center, and as appropriate to the age of the person:
- Self-care (eating, drinking, bathing, dressing, toileting)
- Receptive and expressive language (hearing, reading, understanding, speaking, writing)
- Mobility (walking, taking public transportation, riding a bike, driving a car).
- Capacity for independent living (living by oneself, shopping, paying bills, not setting the house on fire)
- Economic self-sufficiency (earning and managing money)
A person with a developmental disability may need help as they turn 18
When a person with a developmental disability turns 18, they, just as anyone else, become a legal adult. They gain
- The right to make most decisions for themselves
- The responsibility for the consequences of most of their actions and decisions
Though no adult makes all their decisions, especially important ones, without help, a young adult with a developmental disability may need special help to make decisions and transition to living independently.
Considering a conservatorship
A conservatorship is when a judge appoints another person to act or make decisions for the person who needs help. The person the judge appoints is called the conservator. The person who needs the help is the conservatee. A judge can only appoint a conservator if other less restrictive options won't work.
A person with a developmental disability might need some form of help if they have a functional limitation in three or more of the areas of major life activity. If other less restrictive options won't work, you may want to consider a conservatorship.
If you haven't yet, explore and consider other less restrive ways to help other than a limited conservatorship.