Several Springfield organizations helping parents with special needs children transition to adulthood


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Springfield Public Schools, Abilities First and Arc of the Ozarks is partnering up to help parents who have children with special needs help them transition into adulthood.

Guardianship was the only answer for many parents who have kids with special needs when they become adults.

But now there are more options for parents.

“Guardianship is one of the most restrictive things that can be issued upon an individual,” Maggie Rollwagen, Abilities First Director of Community Education said.

Guardianship means a person would be responsible for the now-adult with developmental disabilities.

“You can be told what you can eat, what you can wear, where you can live. if you can be in a relationship, what that relationship looks like,” Rollwagen said.

But Abilities First, SPS and Arc of the Ozarks say while there are some instances to file for guardianship, they want every parent to have information about other options

“We don’t have any judgment on people who do file for guardianship or people who have guardianship, because sometimes its the right fit, but what we do want to make a change in is that that is not the only information they have,” Rollwagen said.

Angela Page-Hanson and her stepdaughter Myranda Nichole Hanson attended the transition meeting at Empower: Abilities to learn about the different options Myranda has to move forward.

“For a long time, all you hear is guardianship, guardianship. We’re learning how to kind of transition her to living independently and securely and safely,” Angela said. “It’s part of her life. This is her life.”

Myranda says being able to be a part of the process makes her feel more independent.

“In a way, you lose your independence when someone else is doing it for you,” Myranda said. “I mean, obviously not everybody, but the ones that can, I would encourage it because you’ve got more opportunities ahead of you.

“The sky is the limit. If you just let everybody make your decisions for you, you don’t know how much further you can go.”

The availability of more options help create independence.

“It’s empowering for her,” Angela said. “It gives her a lot more decision-making ability, which is exactly what we want to getting her to that independence.”

“Our job is to be innovative and supportive and helping people with developmental disabilities, find those circles of support, so that they are able to have sounding boards for making choices and the dignity of making a mistake,” Rollwagen said.

Rollwagen says other options aside from guardianship could be power of attorney, conservatorship, and supported decision making teams.

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