Reporting of Missing Adults with Development and Mental or Intellectual Disability Special Needs

In Kenya, when a child turns 18, they are considered an adult. You may always think of your son or daughter as a child. When you have a special needs adult child that care never stops. Nor does the worry. But in the eyes of the law, people are considered adults when they turn age 18 to 21 (it varies by countries).  Chronological age is not a particularly good indicator [of maturity] for special needs persons.

legal adult is a person who has attained the age of majority and is therefore regarded as independent, self-sufficient, and responsible for their actions. The typical age of attaining legal adulthood is 18, although definition may vary by legal rights and country. The age of majority is the threshold of adulthood as recognized or declared in law. It is the moment when minors cease to be considered such and assume legal control over their persons, actions, and decisions, thus terminating the control and legal responsibilities of their parents or guardian over them.

Most countries set the age of majority at 18, but some jurisdictions have a higher age of 21 and others lower at 16. The word majority here refers to having greater years and being of full age as opposed to minority, the state of being a minor. The law in a given jurisdiction may not actually use the term “age of majority”. The term typically refers to a collection of laws bestowing the status of adulthood. The age of majority does not necessarily correspond to the mental or physical maturity of an individual. Although a person may attain the age of majority in a particular jurisdiction, they may still be subject to age-based restrictions regarding matters such as the right to vote or stand for elective office, act as a judge, and many others.

In determining how to best help parents and caregivers provide for their adult child with special needs, it is important to take into account the self-sufficiency of the adult child. Here are factors to discuss when tailoring a course of action:

  • Whether the person is capable of communicating his or her needs and wants regarding his or her care;
  • Degree to which the person can adequately feed, clothe and otherwise take care of his or her basic needs;
  • Whether the person will require outside care (i.e. an assisted-living facility); and
  • Degree to which the person can understand the effects and consequences of his or her actions.

Determining capacity is important because the degree to which a person is capable of making an informed decision relates to which decisions he or she can make. Capacity is a fluid concept depending on the person, the circumstances, and the decision to be made. A person can be competent to make some decisions, but not others.

Physical disabilities that limit walking/movement may be the largest followed by Autism Spectrum in the development and intellectually disabled special needs group, but there is also Cerebral Palsy, Fragile X syndrome, unclassified learning disabilities, speech and language impairments, visual and hearing impediments, Epilepsy, Emotional or Behavioral disorders e.g. Schizophrenia and Developmental /Cognitive disabilities e.g. Downs Syndrome. This is just to mention but a few.

It is with this in mind that in consideration of our current capacity and public demand, Missing Child Kenya has extended case management of missing persons to strictly 21 years old based on PROOF OF IDENTITY for the unique category of persons with development and intellectually/mentally disabled special needs. We shall receive and process alerts of individuals who have a developmental mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, and a person who has a history or record of such an impairment.

To report such cases, use the avenues below:




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