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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Problem of Guardianship

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the  civil rights of people with autism and other disabilities. 

Tyler Cowen at Bloomberg:
[T]he error rate for decisions about guardianship, in contrast with the medical error rate, is unknown. There is also a dearth of information about the overall numbers of autistic Americans under guardianship. In American history, lack of transparency has too often been correlated with unfairness and prejudice.
One study considered 8,713 diagnosed autistic adults in the U.S. Of that cohort, 5,025 were legally dependent, with a court-appointed custodian of some kind. Regardless of whether this is a representative sample, guardianship is by no means a rare practice. Of that group, 43.4% were listed as intellectually disabled, and about two-thirds had at least one psychiatric disorder over the course of their lifetimes (with imperfect scrutiny, the general U.S. rate registers at one half).
These numbers hardly settle the question. But they do raise the possibility that many of these adults may never have needed guardianship status in the first place.
Such a lack of transparency is shocking. Once people have lost their rights, it is not particularly easy to win them back, if only because they do not have control over their own life. How do you prove that you are capable of making your own decisions?