Person-Centered Planning

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“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”


Person-Centered Planning Can Create a Destination…

And Find the Path(s) That Can Lead You/Your Child There


Person-centered planning is a broad term used to describe an intentional, deliberate approach to planning for and with the person with a disability, rather than waiting for and fearing the future.   It is an ongoing process; can any of us truly plan the rest of our lives in one sitting?  Because the process is fluid and continuous, it allows for changes in life’s circumstances and the needs of the individual.  Those involved in the planning are people who know and care about the individual.  They ensure that the plan accurately reflects the needs and desires of the individual.  This results in a plan that truly works for that individual.


The idea of person-centered planning has evolved over the last 20 years, resulting in a variety of methods.  Some of the more recognizable include Personal Futures Planning, MAPS, PATH, and Essential Lifestyle Planning.  Different approaches were designed to deal with different issues (challenging behavior, the development of relationships, or gaining more of what matters to the person with the disability), but they all share a common set of beliefs:


  • The person at the focus of planning, and those who love the person, are the primary authorities on the person's life direction. The essential questions are: "Who is this person?" and "What community opportunities will enable this person to pursue his or her interests in a positive way?"


  • The purpose of person centered planning is learning through shared action.


  • Person centered planning aims to change common patterns of community life. Person centered planning stimulates community hospitality and enlists community members in assisting focus people to define and work toward a desirable future.


  • Person centered planning requires collaborative action and challenges practices that separate people and perpetuate controlling relationships.


  • Honest person centered planning can only come from respect for the dignity and completeness of the focus person.


  • Assisting people to define and pursue a desirable future tests one's clarity, commitment and courage.


If thinking about the future for your child is frightening or overwhelming, you’re not alone.  The future concerns most parents, even those who don’t live with disability.  Person-centered planning can move you (and your child) from the paralysis of fear to an action-oriented plan with hopes and dreams for the future.


Articles about Person-Centered Planning and the various methods available:


On Choice


It's My Choice (PDF)


The Origins of Person-Centered Planning (PDF)


Listen Learn Act - See Person centered planning, should we do it with everyone?


Increasing Person-Centered Thinking:  Improving the Quality of Person-Centered Planning


Finding a Way to Everyday Lives:  The Contribution of Person-Centered Planning (PDF)


Person-Centered Planning: A Tool for Transition


A Resource List on Person-Centered Planning


Person Centered Planning Education Site


MAPs and PATHs - A Family Perspective


Common Sense Tools:  MAPS & CIRCLES for Inclusive Education


Person-Centered Planning: Maps and Paths to the Future


It’s Never Too Early, It’s Never Too Late - A Book About Personal Futures Planning (PDF)


Making Futures Happen (PDF) for the future (A Workbook to Help Young Adults with Disabilities, Their Families, and Professionals to Plan for Living, Working and Participating in the Community)


Texas Resources:


Person-Centered Planning for People in Waiver Programs - Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) has a website and online training to encourage the use of Person-Centered Planning across the state. Person-Centered Planning helps people who receive HHS services achieve the quality of life they desire and ensures they live, work and participate in the setting of their choice.  The website contains information important to those receiving services, as well as for service providers.


The Texas Center for Disability Studies at the University of Texas has a collaborative initiative with the Center on Disability and Development at Texas A&M University called the Institute on Person-Centered Practices. The ICPC provides training opportunities in person-centered practices for people with disabilities, families and professionals. ICPC trainers are certified by The Learning Community for Person Centered Practices.


Texas Microboard Collaboration – A project of The ARC of Texas that brings together a small group of committed family members and friends of an individual with a disability to create a nonprofit organization to address the individual’s planning and support needs. A Microboard begins with a Person Centered Plan called a PATH. (Financial Support for The Texas Microboard Collaboration is provided by the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities, with Federal funds made available by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Developmental Disabilities.)