Jonathan was approaching age 20 and living with autism. He has limited speech and needs assistance with most activities of daily living so his family contacted Planned Lifetime Assistance of New Jersey (PLAN/NJ) for a Life Planning Consultation.

His parents were concerned about a recent behavior crisis, and needed to discuss his support from the state of New Jersey. Changes to eligibility criteria meant that he no longer qualified for support from the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) and was moved to the Division of Children and Families (DCF). However DCF did not have the resources available to meet Jonathan’s needs, especially in the time of a behavioral crisis.

The family needed guidance on how to best address their son’s behavior challenges and how to access appropriate services since he was soon to graduate from school. In addition, the family needed to understand the importance of how to become Jonathan’s legal Guardians. While the family had assumed they would always have the legal right to advocate for Jonathan, through consultation with PLAN/NJ they learned they must file for Legal Guardianship through the courts. Because Jonathan was legally emancipated at age 18, agencies and medical doctors were not always willing to speak to his family due to privacy laws.

PLAN/NJ assisted Jonathan’s family with their concerns, providing information on the process of becoming his Legal Guardian and providing additional referrals for doctors, agencies, affordable legal counsel, and programs.