September 6, 2011

The PATH process

In a previous post I described the PCP (People Centered Planning) programs used by PEAK Parent Center as follows:

There are two programs specific to person centered planning (PCP), Path and Taking Charge. Taking Charge is a 5 Saturday course to learn about self-advocacy, as well as creating circles of support and building networks. PATH is a two hour facilitated session that creates a plan for the future.

Following is an excerpt from the PEAK website:

The PATH planning process helps you build your personal support circle and make a plan for reaching your goals for the future. An assigned facilitator and a recorder guide you, your family, and other people of your choice through a creative, graphic planning process during which you identify your dreams, set goals and plan for how, with help from your circle, you will achieve those goals. The final PATH step is an Action Plan with specific steps that will be taken to move forward on your plan.

Alex’s PATH took place in May. We scheduled close to her 18th birthday to help reinforce her impending adulthood. We invited her case manager, Special Olympic coaches, the Executive Director of WindWalkers and the Disability Coordinator for our local community college. Not only are these people Alex interacts with on a regular basis, they have all become our friends. These people are called Alex’s circles of support, friends who will go to whatever length is needed to support Alex, and as we discovered, will say yes to anything Alex wants. However, I put my foot down to dinner invitations in restaurants.

The first step in the PATH process is to discover Alex’s dreams for her future. If you asked me I would say Alex wants to live on her own, get married and have children. These are all great dreams, but are they positive and possible? And most importantly are they Alex’s dream?

This is what PATH is about…..ask the self-adovate….do not assume….and do not minimize anyone’s dreams. Alex’s dreams for her future include the following (verbatim):
  • Husband-love friend
  • Be healthy/lose 30 lbs.
  • Music singer
  • College CMC
  • Team sports-basketball
  • Horseback riding
  • Motorcycles
  • Independent
  • Living in her own place
  • TV, movies, actress
  • Friends to do things with
  • Places where people know and need Alex
  • Work in Glenwood
Many of these I know, but some came as a surprise – Ride a motorcycle? Work in Glenwood? But true to the PATH process we honor all of Alex’s dream and through the next steps in the process uncover ways to support Alex. The PATH works backwards:



Step 1 – What is the vision (called the North Star)?
Step 2 – Where do you see yourself in one year?
Step 3 – Where do you see yourself in six months?
Step 4- Where are you now?
Step 5 – Who will you enroll to support you?
Step 6 – What can you do to get stronger to help realize your north star?
Step 7 – What will we do now to support Alex, who will do these tasks and when?

Alex next steps (step 7) as they tied back to her visions include the following:
  • Ride bus – live independently
  • Challenge Aspen to find a friend – friends to do things with
  • Have a few bike lessons - motorcycle
  • Exercise 3 times a week – be healthy, lose weight
  • E-mail, skype, address book – friends to do things with (communicate about get togethers)
  • Rock Board (Alex named the team the Rock Board) meets August 22nd

In three short months we accomplished all of these tasks except riding the bus. We met on August 22nd to celebrate our success as well as plan for new tasks.
PATH is very simple, plan for the future from the self-advocates perspective, not mine, not my husband’s and not the school’s. This is about Alex, honoring her dreams and visions and helping her create a plan for her future, just like her sister and just like her brother.
We feel we are moving forward and planning for a future Alex wants. All we had to do was ask her!


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