Use Person-Centered Planning for People with Disabilities
Person-centered planning is a process to help those with disabilities plan for the future. The ultimate goal is to get to an endpoint of a “meaningful life” for that person. Like it sounds, person-centered planning is focused on the person. Once the goal is set, you can work backwards to plan how to get the person as close to the goal as possible.
Person-centered planning is a customized problem-solving process so that the person can develop personal skills and find some measure of control over their own lives. Since the person-centered planning looks at the person in an individualized way, no two plans are ever alike.
In the person-centered planning model, the emphasis is on giving the young person the tools he or she needs, rather than on fixing the person. It is a strengths-based model (based on skills, abilities, interests, maximum capacity in work and life skills, etc) and NOT a medical model. Since there is nothing broken, there is nothing to fix.
A contrast to person-based planning is the concept of service-based planning. Put simply, service-based planning tries to have people fit into services. In this article, we’ll talk about how to use person-centered planning in special education, and some person-centered practices, along with some examples.
Person-Centered Planning in Special Education
Teenagers and young people with disabilities need a support system that recognizes their strengths, interests, and fears, which allows them to take control of their own future. Person-centered planning helps the young student figure out what their goals are, what steps they need to take to get there, as well as classes they need to take in the future. It’s critical that person-centered planning address many details of a young person’s career planning as they transition into becoming adults. Furthermore, the plan is usually written in everyday language (without medical or professional jargon/rhetoric) so everyone working with the person is on the same page.
Some person-centered practices can range from choosing the right facilitator for the young person to developing the student’s personal life story.
Here are some other examples of person-centered practices:
- Identify events that may have an impact on the young person’s health or career path
- Brainstorm ways that the student may reach his or her goal
- Find a comfortable location for meetings suitable to the student
- Document a list of concrete steps for the young person to take
- Celebrate successes along the way
A Person-Centered Approach
One important component of person-centered planning is that each step be completely customized to the individual. A person-centered approach should ensure that people critical to the young person’s success listen to his or her voice. The young student should feel completely supported along the path to their success. A young person ought to feel included every step of the way with a person-centered approach.
Person-Centered Treatment Plan
The “discovery process” is often difficult for kids with cognitive disabilities. Identifor was designed with this in mind–to uncover the skills, abilities and interests a person has by playing bias-free games so that realistic goals and thus a treatment plan can be set. Both Autism Speaks and McCloskey Surveys at identifor.com are powerful tools for aggregated situational analysis to help fine tune a person-centered treatment plan.
Person-Centered Planning Tools
There are many person-centered planning tools available. Here are a few:
MAPS is a way for young people to move creatively into the future. Check out the excellent MAP template on this list of PCP Tools. An outstanding way to customize a document for a young person is to answer a series of questions. The questions can be a set of prompts for future actions. For example, asking who are all the people in the young person’s life can yield the network which will be used to support the teenager in the future. Asking for details about a young person’s health can determine physical strengths and weaknesses. And listing things that work and don’t work can help create a strong roadmap for the future.
Plan for Success
Once a young person has a customized person-centered plan in place, they will be more likely to achieve success in their lives and the transitions they will encounter. For more information about transition planning, see Transition Planning For Students With Autism: Achieving Success on the Spectrum.