Person-Centered planning helps an individual with disabilities achieve their dreams and goals. Many people with disabilities may get discouraged or feel that their disability prevents them from achieving their dreams. I've heard some of my students complain that they will never find a good job or that they will never get to do what they really want because they have a disability. Having a disability, however, does not mean that you cannot achieve goals and dreams. Achieving these goals and dreams just takes a bit more planning and often some help from the caring people in one's life. Everyone, regardless of a disability, can do some things well. Person-centered planning helps someone with a disability discover their gifts and talents in a friendly, supportive environment.
To begin with person-centered planning, you can draft a list of people who know the individual well. These can be teachers, service providers, family members, friends, and community members. The most important thing they will all have in common is that they care about you and that they can help identify your gifts and talents. It's important to have a variety of invitees because different people often see you in a different light. A boss will notice work-related talents that may not be seen at home and a classroom teacher or service provider will have different insight than a best friend.
Once you have your list ready, you can choose a date and time for a first meeting. It's a good idea to have a location away from the school in a friendly atmosphere that will put everyone at ease. At the first meeting, you can brainstorm the likes, dislikes, talents, and areas that will need additional support for you to meet your goals. You do not need to have any specific goals in mind at the time. One of the benefits of having a whole team of people at your service is that they might recognize things about you that you enjoy that maybe you never thought could be turned into a job. Most people in their teens do not know what they would like to do for the rest of their lives, and many people have more than one career in their lives. It's okay to be unsure or uncertain about your future. That's why you have people in your corner to help you. They can recognize things in you that you are not yet aware exist.
The first meeting is a brainstorming session that will help to get the ball rolling. Everyone should share their ideas on what you do well, what you like to do, and identify possible areas where you could use these skills.
This is a positive meeting where people share with you the best they see in you. If anyone has any networking ideas or contacts, these should also be shared at the initial meeting. Then, follow-up tasks can be assigned to members of your planning team and you can reconvene to follow-up on the networking activities. During this meeting, you will develop some idea of possible goals for your future and subsequent meetings will help you to map your your course of education or employment for your future.
“Person-centered planning involves the development of a "toolbox" of methods and resources that enable people with disability labels to choose their own pathways to success” (Blessing, Carol. Cornell University Employment and Disability Planning and Education Site). The process involves people chosen by you, the individual, who come together as a team to map out your skills and accomplishments and provide insight into possible career or educational paths. It takes time and dedication from you and from the caring people in your life who truly want you to succeed. Success is possible and identifying a team of people to help you is the first and best step toward the a successful future.