Legal Resources: Turning 18

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Turning 18: Rights and Responsibilities

When an individual with disabilities turns 17, the annual IEP meeting begins to change. The last IEP meeting before the student’s 18th birthday includes a discussion related to who will make educational decisions for this student when he/she turns 18. This is called “transfer of rights”. At 18, the individual with disabilities has reached the age of majority and unless alternative arrangements are enacted, the responsibility for making personal decisions for him or her remains with the student. For some students, this is a reasonable shift in responsibilities. For others with complex or significant disabilities, having the student make educational and life decisions is unfathomable. Any student who will need continued (even for a year or two) support for decision making, the process to transfer rights from the parents to the student who has reached the age of majority is documented in the IEP process.

Some advocates recommend that families seek the services of a special needs attorney who will guide them through the guardianship process. Guardianship is used to meet the legal requirements of the decision-making process; putting the wishes of the individual and family into legally binding format.

Recommended websites, YouTube videos, books on this topic?

Florida Bar Association. For their website: Click Here

Just Adulting Legal Guide 2018. Click Here

Getting Ready for When Your Teen Reaches the Age of Majority: A Parent’s Guide. Click Here
Getting Ready for Healthcare  at the Age of Majority. Click Here
Getting Ready for Managing Finances at the Age of Majority. Click Here
Getting Ready for Independent Living at the Age of Majority. Click Here


Disability Rights Florida

Autism Speaks

Center for Parent Information and Resources (NICHCY)


Written by: Dr. Mary Louise Duffy, FAU College of Education
Department of Exceptional Student Education, Academy for Community Inclusion

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