Office for People With Developmental Disabilities

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Various Person Centered Planning Methodologies


Person-centered planning supports people with disabilities to express their needs, wishes, and goals with methods that reflect their individual culture and communication style. The person centered planning process helps to generate opportunities for social inclusion (e.g., community membership, employment, personalized living arrangements, etc.) through inclusion and participation.

Person centered planning is not a new concept although it has evolved over the past fifteen to twenty years. There is no one universal person centered planning methodology. However, all person centered planning methodologies have the same basic intensions: To assist individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to lead lives that are meaningful and purposeful to them, and that allow them to participate fully in their homes and communities to the extent they are willing and able to do so.

The person centered plan itself may be expressed via a variety of formats that best tell the individual’s story, and helps to identify their hopes, dreams, strengths, needs, and safeguards. This may be accomplished through wall charts, developing a document, drawings, or even an audio recording of an oral plan,. Some people find graphics development easy whereas others find it more challenging. In either case, practice makes for better graphic mapping. Multimedia techniques are also becoming more popular in the development of person centered plans, including translating plans into personal PowerPoint presentations, portfolios, or onto iPads or other tablet devices.

The following six methodologies are commonly used throughout New York State and beyond:


Defining Features

Personal Futures Planning

Aims to generate powerful images of a rich life in the community that will guide a search for opportunities for the person to take up valued social roles, and develop service arrangements to support the person in those roles.

Collects and organizes information by looking through a set of “windows for change,” which describe the person’s relationships, important places, things that energize him or her, the individual’s gifts and capacities, ideas, and dreams of a desirable future.

(Mount, 2000)

Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope (PATH)

A group process for discovering a way to move toward a positive and possible goal, which is rooted in life purpose by enrolling others, building strength, and finding a workable strategy.

(O’Brien, Pearpoint and Kahn, 2010)

Making Action Plans (MAPS)

A group process for clarifying gifts, identifying meaningful contributions, specifying the necessary conditions for contribution, and making agreements that will develop opportunities for contribution.

(O’Brien, Pearpoint, & Kahn, 2010)

Essential Lifestyle Planning (ELP)

Asks what is important to and for a person in everyday life. Specifies the support the person requires and person-specific ways to address issues of health or safety that balance what is important to the person & what is important for the person. Clearly identifies opportunities for improved assistance. Guides continuing learning about the person’s supports in a way that is easily understood by those who assist the person.

(Smull & Sanderson, 2005).

Facilitated Discovery

A systematic process of answering the question, “Who is this person?” that generates a rich background for negotiating a customized employment role. Focuses particularly on people failed by typical methods for supporting employment.

(Callahan, Schumpert and Condon, 2011).

Wheelpower: Steering Your Way Toward a

Life of Distinction

A group of groups of self-advocates (5 to 10 focus people with their families and allies) support one another to make “wheels” that illustrate their current involvement in valued social roles, and their desired vision for a life growing through the expansion of valued social roles.

Mutual support grows with shared discoveries, questions and resources, particularly when self-advocates meet to revisit the vision and exercise courage and determination to change self, organizations, and community opportunities.

Groups do their own facilitation with guidance from a large group facilitator and self-advocacy leaders.

(SANYS, 2009, O’Brien, 2008)