Autism Resulted In His Rights Being Stripped Away. He Just Won Them Back
MIAMI — Tyler Borjas will now be able to vote, buy a house or travel when he wants.
That’s because a judge agreed earlier this month that Borjas, 25, who was diagnosed with autism as a child, is capable of making his own decisions.
“(It) was amazing,” Borjas said of the virtual hearing. “It’s all about me getting my rights back.”
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Last week, a judge terminated guardianship — which essentially stripped Borjas of his rights by deeming him incapacitated — and allowed him to use a less restrictive alternative known as supported decision-making. He is believed to be only the second person in the state to get guardianship terminated through this manner.
Supported decision-making allows adults with disabilities to make important decisions with assistance. In his case, his mother, Kelly Bain-Borjas, and two sisters, Hayley and Jade, will be his support team.
In August, Viviana Bonilla López, an attorney working with Disability Rights Florida, an advocacy group, turned to the court to ask a judge to give Borjas his rights back.
“We are so excited for Tyler’s big win,” she said. “This case is so important in demonstrating that supported decision-making is a viable alternative to guardianship,” she said.
Borjas’ mom said a few years ago she was forced to put her son in guardianship, the result of a personal injury lawsuit filed on his behalf. She said she always encouraged her son to be independent and the guardianship did the exact opposite. In fact, when he was placed under guardianship, he had a job, his own bank account and got around by himself using Uber and Metrorail.
Borjas said now that he has his rights back he wants to get a driver’s license, get married, travel and buy a house.
Bonilla López, an Equal Justice Works Fellow working with Disability Rights Florida, took on Borjas’ case as part of her project sponsored by the Florida Bar Foundation, which is focused on expanding the use of supported decision-making as an alternative to guardianship.
She is now on a mission to educate people about supported decision-making as a substitute for guardianship. She is even working on legislation that could require supported decision-making to be considered.
“We plan to continue to bring cases like Tyler’s to the courts,” Bonilla López said. “We are hoping Tyler’s will be the first of many like this — not only in Miami-Dade, but in Florida.”
© 2020 Miami Herald
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC