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Person-Centered Planning

Person-centred planning is a fundamentally different way of seeing and working with people with disabilities.  It is a way of encouraging and supporting people with (and without) disabilities to make autonomous choices for their own life – to support them in planning their own future as an adult.

"People with disabilities should be involved in decisions that affect them."

- Ch 5, Human Rights in New Zealand 2010

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Angelman Syndrome, Adulthood and Person-centred Planning

Person-centred planning builds a shared commitment that recognizes and respects individual human rights. Every person who has Angelman Syndrome is an individual with their own unique personalities, personal preferences, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. 


Even though a person with AS may be non-verbal, they communicate in many other ways. They DO let us know what they like and what they don’t like – what their interests and preferences are. They also have the right to be 'heard' and for their choices and preferences to be respected. They should be given the opportunity to give input and make choices about their own future, even if it is just a Yes/No response. ​A supported AAC communication system is key to independence and autonomy for non-speakers, and acknowledgement of this should be incorporated into the person-centred planning process. See Communication - AAC 


With the support of a group of people who know the person with AS best, a visionary and flexible plan for their future can be drawn up and put into motion while they are still at school (from 14 yrs onward) - as part of their transition plan. The 'Circle of Support' group and the school staff can then begin to organise the supports and services needed for the person with AS to achieve their dreams and goals.

Key features of Person-centred Planning


Valued Roles

Inclusion works best when everyone has a valued role in society.

See Social Role Valorization (SRV). A person-centred plan should reflect what

is important to the person (now and for the future) and should specify the roles

they can fill and the support they require to make a valued contribution to their


Full Partners  

All decisions that affect a disabled person’s life should be based on what is

important to that person from their own perspective. The planning for

their future requires careful listening/paying attention to/observation of the

person by those who know them best. Because the young person with AS

needs informed choice about how they want to live and what supports will

suit them best, it is important to consider family members and friends as

full partners. The contributions that friends and families can make are

recognised and valued. 



The person is at the centre of the plan. When the person is non-verbal, they should have

access to some form of AAC/communication device so they can contribute to the

planning process - even if it is just a Yes/No response. Person-centred planning 

discovers and acts on what is important to that person. The process should be fluid and

flexible and requires continual listening, learning and action to help the person get what

they want out of their own life. Read more on person-centred thinking tools.

Planning is Empowering

Person-centred (or person-directed) planning, is when the person is at the core of the plan.

Family and friends are partners in planning. Planning focuses on the persons' unique talents

and personal interests, and looks to the future. Planning leads towards action and is an

ongoing process. In New Zealand, the initial planning meeting can be funded by

individualised funding (IF) and facilitated by approved organisations. 


Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope (PATH) is a visual planning tool that

is used to solve problems, set short and long term goals, and create an action plan.

At a PATH meeting, information is gathered in creative ways from the disabled person,

and/or selected persons from their circles of support. This information is used to

create a visual plan of action. The aim is to find out what the person enjoys

doing, what they want to achieve and what sort of supports need to be put in

place to make this happen. This kind of Person-centred thinking and planning

is also a great way to show organisations and funding providers what is important

to the person and how support can be organised that makes sense to the individual.  

Individualised Funding

Individualised Funding (IF) is available throughout New Zealand for eligible people.

IF gives disabled people more choice in how they are supported. Individuals with

Angelman syndrome can get IF if they have someone, eg. a parent or welfare guardian

in their support network who is willing to be their agent and manage their services.


Parents can contact your local Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC)

service to learn more. They will do a needs assessment, which takes into account

essential need and natural supports available to you.

You can get IF for your loved one, if they:

Online Guide to Individualised Funding.

Transformation Disability Support System (NZ)


Changes are on the way. Enabling Good Lives (EGL) is a new approach to supporting

disabled people in NZ that offers greater choice and control over the supports they

receive, so that they can plan for the lives they want. EGL is a fundamental shift to the

cross-government disability support system to ensure disabled people experience greater

choice and control over their supports.


A basis of the EGL approach is that services and supports are tailored to reflect individual

strength, preference and aspiration. In this way, EGL will take different forms – person by

person, family by family and community by community. Disabled people, their families and

service providers are partners in the process of designing, implementing and monitoring the

EGL approach. It is being trialed in Christchurch and the Waikato. See the pdf, here.

Transitioning from school to adult life 


Transition is a process that takes place over a few years - it is not a one-off event. 

The transition from school process starts when the student turns 14 at the latest. It

is part of a specific planning process that identifies pathways to maximise

academic achievement as well as functional life skills. The main aim of transition

is to realise the hopes and dreams of the student. This has to fit within the hopes,

dreams and capacity of the family/whānau (some members of which often have

their own fears and expectations that will need to be considered, addressed and,

in some situations, challenged). The family/whānau are provided with processes

and information that will help them to create a positive vision of their child’s future.

Exploring Futures

- is a step-by-step guide designed for the young person with a disability

and is intended to help them find a pathway towards their dreams! 

Download a copy here. 


A Young Adults Guide to Flatting

"The stories contained in this booklet begin to help us recognise that a different reality is

possible. If people with a disability are to be supported to live lives that are – in the

ordinary sense – full and meaningful, then this can only be done when they are truly

engaged in the shared life of our community."

More links to Person-centred Planning Models

Person-Centered Planning and Self-Directed Service models are becoming more popular in the disability sectors around the world as they allow the person and their families a real say in how they will live out their lives.

Microboards in USA/Canada/Northern Ireland

Microboards first originated in Canada and eventually sparked interest across the globe. First in the US was in Maryland for a young man with Angelman Syndrome. Microboards or Self-Directed Support Corporations  can now be found in many states and in other countries.

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Circles of Support - these circles are made up of friends, family and supporters. The person in the centre, gets to share what a good life would look like for them. The group then supports that person, and together they figure out how to make the plan a reality. 


After the initial group meeting, the Circle of Support should meet up regularly to review how the plan is going and to make changes if/when necessary. 


 'Building your tribe' is important to prevent isolation and despondency. Building relationships is always reciprocal - everyone in the circles will benefit from these positive relationships.  

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