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Parents of autistic children may plan to become conservators

The phrase "on the spectrum" has become an amorphous idea for many people, some of whom think it applies to any strange behavior as a way to make themselves more comfortable. The term is no joke for relatives of people with actual autism spectrum disorders, and the difference between functional and nonfunctional personalities could not be clearer.

More than 2 percent of children in the United States were diagnosed with autism, Asperger syndrome, pervasive development disorder or another autism spectrum disorder. This is more than a threefold increase from the year 2000. Relatives, especially parents and guardians, end up doing much of the work of helping these children overcome social and emotional difficulties and live a full and happy life.

When parents are able to perform their duties as legal guardians, there is little legal work to be done to protect members of the family. In some cases, however, another relative may attempt to become the legal guardian because he or she is better suited to handle individual needs. These cases are generally decided in Connecticut probate courts.

If a child has a disorder severe enough, he or she may require someone to acquire the legal authority of a conservator over him or her. A conservator fulfills many of the requirements that a guardian would for a minor, such as major life decisions and management of financial matters, and be appointed for life or the assumed duration of the disorder.

A person seeking to become a conservator may seek legal help from an attorney. Legal representation may be helpful in probate court proceedings and may increase the chances of a successful court action.

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