Person Centered Planning

By: Tayler Sykora

What is Person Centered Planning?

Person Centered Planning is a series of processes used to learn about people with intellectual or developmental disabilities and to help them plan for their future. By putting focus on the individual and what they want, Person Centered Planning gives individuals the chance to be heard and to organize their lives in a way that is concordant with their needs, likes, strengths, and desires. This technique not only enables them to live the lives of their choosing, but also provides them with the opportunity to be seen for who they are and not their disability.

Creating Profiles and Developing a Deeper Understanding of the Individual

Too often people with disabilities are described by their impairments rather than their strengths. They are labeled according to their differences rather than their similarities. This causes many to forget that they, too, have a voice and it deserves to be listened to. They deserve to have a say in how they want their life to be, and Person Centered Planning allows them to do that. Person Centered Planning goes beyond the individual’s diagnosis to reach a deeper understanding of who they are as a person, the skills they have to offer, and their aspirations for the future.

"It is about discovering their abilities rather than their disabilities,” says Marjorie Ames, a facilitator with a focus in Person Centered Planning, “The goal is to help people be more seen, heard, understood, and valued”.

This is done by asking individuals and those who know them best questions about what they like to do, where they like to be, and what is important to them. Though simple, this technique allows people to see the individual from a more holistic perspective and provides them with the knowledge necessary for forming relationships and supplying these individuals with the care and support they need. Being heard and understood also increases their confidence and encourages them to continue sharing their thoughts and feeling as a self-advocate.

Creating a Plan Centered around the Individuals

In addition to developing a comprehensive profile that highlights the individual and their desires, Person Centered Planning also helps those with disabilities create a plan for their future. These plans are designed to serve as a set of guidelines that will assist the individual in reaching their destination in way that best fits their likes, strengths, and preferences. By doing this, Person Centered Planning not only protects the right of the individual to define the direction of their own life, but also supports their position as a valued member of society that deserves to be recognized for more than their disability.

Behind every diagnosis, there is a person, and like everyone else, they have a voice that deserves to be heard. They have skills that deserve to be showcased, goals that deserve to be realized, and Person Centered Planning helps them accomplish that. This technique prevents an individual from being dictated by their disability and allows them to live the life they want in a way that makes them happy whether it be their education, employment, housing, healthcare, transportation, or any other area in which they may need assistance.

To learn more about Person Centered Planning:

Marjorie Ames, Person Centered Planning Facilitator/Trainer at  612-209-1763.

Or visit:

About the author:  Tayler Sykora is a student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls majoring in marketing communications with a minor in professional writing. Tayler has an internship with ConnectWC for the summer of 2015 and is writing several articles focusing on disability-related topics of interest to individuals with special needs, their families and the community.
Phone: 715-338-6150