Better Prepared Than Surprised: Florida Guardian Advocacy for Special Needs Kids

Lauren Merritt

by Lauren Merritt

Lauren Merritt is a Pensacola native and is licensed in both Florida and Alabama. Lauren has her own law practice located in the offices of My Pink Lawyer® and is an affiliated independent counsel. Lauren is a newlywed with three bonus daughters and a newly adopted baby son. Lauren enjoys running, going to the gym, crafting with the girls, dining out, and relaxing at home with her new family.

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“Lolo, you should write a blog about this!” chuckled a giddy Bailie three Saturdays ago.


The kids have jumped on the Blog Bandwagon, and now they like to contribute topic ideas.

 Big Kahuna pic


On this particular occasion, Matt and I had taken the girls to Big Kahuna's water park. It was the last weekend of the season that the park was open, and the weather was gorgeous!


With limited admittance due to COVID-19 restrictions and I think some uncertainty as to whether the park re-opened after Hurricane Sally, there was virtually “no line, no wait” for every slide.


We had just finished our second slide… a yellow inner-tube ride that keeps you on the edge of your float with its quick twists and turns.


Everything appeared to be copacetic until...


Matt’s face did the talking before he spoke.


“Soooo, we have a problem….” He said, sheepishly.




“I can’t find my wallet.”


“You brought your WALLET on the slides!?” I exclaimed.


Oh my word. The first thought that came to mind was not appropriate for that audience OR this one!


You see…. 20 minutes prior, we’d just had a discussion about whether sunglasses should be left in the locker.


A wise person once asked me:


“Do you want to be happy? Or do you want to be right?”


Having decided to be “happy” about the sunglasses, I left mine in the locker, and we went on our merry way.


It did not even dawn on me that my husband would keep his wallet in his pocket on the day we’d be shooting down water slides and plunging into pools!


Given the conscious opportunity, I think I would have chosen to be right on that one!


Sure enough:

Slides: 1

Matthew: 0


The wallet was gone.


We retraced our steps to both slides we’d been down so far and talked to the lifeguards at each one.


We were like police investigators revisiting the scene of a crime and interviewing witnesses. The kids were getting a kick out of it.


“Oh dad! You’ve really done it this time!” laughed Ella.


The first slide dumped into a deep pool. No wallet.


The second slide was the yellow tube ride. We checked with the lifeguard at the bottom first.


No wallet.


Next, we headed for the lifeguard at the top.


As we climbed the stairs, my questions were flying:


“Where’s the lost and found?”


“How much cash did you have?”


“Which credit cards do we need to cancel?”


At the top, no wallet.


The second time on the yellow tube ride was slightly less exhilarating the than the first.


I rode down first with Reagan.


But THEN…. At the bottom… the lifeguard proudly told us that...


The lifeguard at slide #1 found the wallet at the bottom of the pool!


What a relief!


I was so happy we found the wallet, I didn’t even give Matt anymore grief.


We had a wonderful time at the park, and everyone’s wallets… and sunglasses!... made it home safe.


Life sometimes has a way of throwing us curveballs when we least expect them. Occasionally, we can see the curve balls coming and can take steps to plan accordingly.


Parents of children with special needs are often taken by surprise when they learn they need court approval to continue acting as their child’s legal guardian after the child turns 18.


When a child with developmental disabilities turns 18, the law recognizes that child as a legal adult, regardless of the child’s mental faculties or disabilities.


Florida has a special guardianship proceeding called Guardian Advocacy to help parents or caregivers of persons with developmental disabilities continue making medical, educational, financial, and legal decisions after the person turns 18.


To learn more about Guardian Advocacy, CLICK to download our free GUARDIAN ADVOCACY REPORT: How to Support Your Special Needs Child Without Losing the Right to Make Medical, Educational, Financial, or Legal Decisions.


Lauren "Better Prepared Than Surprised" Merritt


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