Child with Asberger’s Syndrome was able to re-establish a relationship with her mother through the Kids’ Voice GAL Program and the Safe Child Parenting Time Program.
Kids’ Voice was appointed by Marion Superior Court, Probate Division to serve as the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) for 11-year-old Cassie, who had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. When Katie, the Kids’ Voice attorney, assigned a GAL volunteer to Cassie’s case, Cassie’s aunt Yolanda had been the child’s guardian for five years. Cassie’s father had been her primary caregiver until his death. Yolanda then became Cassie’s legal guardian. Cassie’s mother, Suzanne, lived out of state and was in prison due to her struggles with substance abuse.
Suzanne was released from prison and moved back to Indiana. Suzanne had made significant changes in her life and wanted to be involved in Cassie’s life. The GAL found that Suzanne was not using drugs, continued to attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings regularly, was on parole and received good reports from her parole officer, had a steady job, and was remarried to a man who was the father of two children. The GAL spoke with Cassie’s teacher and counselor. Both were apprehensive for Suzanne to come back into Cassie’s life suddenly since children who have Asperger’s Syndrome usually do not deal well with change. The GAL learned that Cassie had made significant improvements in her behavior during the time with Yolanda. Cassie, who previously exhibited aggressive behavior, had become an active student in class who enjoyed spending time with Yolanda’s children. Under Yolanda’s care, Cassie had regularly attended school, counseling, and doctors’ appointments and was taking medication. The GAL volunteer recommended to the Court, Yolanda, and Suzanne that Cassie remain in the care of Yolanda while slowly phasing in parenting time with Suzanne. The Court requested that the Kids’ Voice Safe Child Parenting Time Program serve on Cassie’s case. The Program provided an environment for Cassie and Suzanne to re-establish a relationship in a place where Cassie felt protected. Katie and the GAL worked with the other attorneys and parties to the guardianship case to develop an agreed court-ordered phased in parenting time schedule for Cassie and Yolanda that would increase over time based upon recommendations from school personnel and a counselor. The GAL also recommended regular counseling for Cassie and Asperger’s Syndrome education for Suzanne and her new husband in order to learn how to accommodate Cassie’s special needs during visits in their home.