Young people in their senior years of school have usually spent some time thinking about what they want to do when they leave school, particularly in the area of work and the studies they might need to undertake to work in their desired field.  Many will already have part time jobs, some may be in relationships, and most would expect that they will leave home and live independently of their parents at some stage in their lives.

These are fairly typical pathways that most young people would reasonably expect to fulfil.

Young people with disabilities are often not afforded such opportunities. Sometimes it is assumed or even expressed that a young person with a disability will not be able to work and can never be independent.  People with disabilities are often not given the opportunity to explore such options.

Yet it is important ….Most people want to be involved in meaningful, purposeful day to day activities.  Most people want some independence from their parents and relationships of their own.

Robust person-centred planning is a critical part of identifying the aspirations of a person with a disability. It provides an opportunity for the person to express themselves and be heard.  Nobody’s future should be determined by the assumptions of others, no matter how well meaning.

What is person centred planning? It is a planning process that puts the person at the centre of the planning:

  • What they want (eg work in a shop, social life, recreational activities, likes and dislikes, people they like to have around them, live in a flat……)
  • What suits them (eg work part time, go to local gym and library, carers who are calm and quiet rather than bubbly and talkative, going out dancing)
  • Supports that are needed to achieve…

The person can express their aspirations and goals.  The plan should be broad and encompass all aspects of their life.  Some might be longer term, and some goals may be more immediate.  Some goals may never be fulfilled, but we all have our daydreams, and sometimes daydreams become reality.

Why is it important to do this?  Most young people do not require such a formal person centred plan, but everyone has one – it exists mostly in our heads. Most people think and plan and do these things without writing them out in a plan as such.

For a young person with a disability this might not happen.  There may be many reasons why this typical informal planning does not occur for a young person with a disability. It is a good idea to write down – involves more supports, may require specific strategies, need your network to help with brainstorming and coming up with ideas