“The best way to predict your future is to create it.”—Abraham Lincoln
If you are the parent of a very young child you may be so caught up in day-to-day caregiving that you may not think about the future very much. If you have a child with a disability you may be grieving the loss of the child you dreamed about, and new dreams for your family and child may be painful.
Even so, you need a plan for the medical and educational needs in your child’s future. Over the last several decades a new way of planning services has been developed. It’s called person-centered planning.
Person-centered planning is different from other ways of planning. It has been described as a discovery process that helps find the balance between what is important to the child and what is important for the child.
There are some common components of person-centered planning:
Relationships, community and choices—The planning process begins with a meeting of people who care about and are involved in a child’s life. This means immediate and extended family members, friends, acquaintances, teachers, therapists, and others.
The community is also discussed because the activities a family and child take part in shape the possibilities for the action plan. The day-to-day and regular routines of the child may be listed. The child’s likes, dislikes and options for choice-making are considered.
Dreams for the future—Parents of a very young child may start with telling the story of their child's birth and young life. The discussion then moves to talking about the child’s strengths and needs and hopes for the future. Creating dreams as a first step in the process encourages thinking about possibilities that may seem unreachable.
Creating an action plan—The action plan should break large goals and dreams down into small parts. For example, a dream might be, “I want my child to be included in social activities.” The corresponding action might be, “I will call my neighbor and set up a playdate for next weekend.” The plan will list what the action is, who’s responsible for completing it, and when it should be completed.
Good Day Bad Day Activity -Try using this to prepare for a planning process.
FACT Oregon offers downloadable person-centered plan samples. Viewing these can help you create your own plan.
Charlene Comstock-Galagan has created Dreamwork (PDF), a template for creating a person-centered plan.
Creating a Vision, from Kids Together, a Pennsylvania non-profit organization, can help you understand and start creating a person-centered plan for your child.
The National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials has written a detailed article to explain the evolution of the person-centered planning process. Read this if you want background information on the concept of person-centered planning and some of the different models used for developing plans.
Some content adapted from “Dreamworks: Creating a Good Life” by Cindi Paschall.