Planning a future can be challenging. Most people plan their future one step at a time, planning forward, toward their dream or goal. The PATH Process, “Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope”, is a creative planning tool that actually starts with the dream or end goal in mind, and you plan the action steps backward from that dream.
In this episode, Annette speaks with Teri Steinberg, a disability consultant, and mom, about the PATH Process and how using this you can assist the individual and their support network, plan positive futures. Teri has been building PATH’s for over 16 years now, her first PATH being for her son.
When Teri’s son Bill was diagnosed with Autism over 20 years ago, she immediately quit her job and began to research everything about it. She began gathering as much information as she could from other parents, support groups, government meetings – anywhere she could find information related to Autism, treatments, services, etc. Teri created a huge information board, which she would share with other parents and support groups. Teri did not want to be a parent that wallowed in grief about her son’s diagnosis, but rather a parent of action that did everything she possibly could to assist him and other families in the similar situations.
Teri started meeting with a few parent support groups a few hours a week, offering them all the information she had gathered. She then began working with microboards, which featured a small circle of support people surrounding the disabled focus individual. Unfortunately, Teri felt they focused too much on things the individual would NOT be able to do. She wanted to speak about the individual’s strengths and abilities and what he was good at.
Teri was taught the PATH Process by David Wetherow, Jack Pearpoint and Lynda Kahn. PATH is a specific tool that allows you to bring together the disabled individual and the support group of people that know and love him. Everyone sits and discusses the individual’s strengths and everything he can do and is good at, rather than focusing on the negative side and what he is not good at. The individual’s ideal future dream life is discussed, and then working backward, the action steps are created to implement a positive life working towards that dream. Everyone in the support group is then enlisted to assist in some part of the individual’s PATH.
It is important to note also that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can participate in their life at every level. They should be included in all decisions regarding their life. It is important to teach them from childhood how to support themselves, how to do things on their own, let them make their own choices and honor those choices. This builds a child’s self-esteem and allows them to be present in their life.
Teri’s closing tip is for parents and disabled individuals to become more active and present with government. Make your presence known with legislators and make it known you are a voter and would like to assist with anything disability related. You have to be physically present, be seen, to bring awareness to disabilities. Contact your local The Arc chapter and they can help you find legislators in your area. If you are interested in learning more about Teri, please contact her through Facebook or reach out to us at Special Needs Companies.
For information on other topics, please also check out Special Needs Companies. For legal advice, inspiration, and other resources, visit our blog here. Similarly, you can always listen to previous podcast episodes (and be sure to leave us a review), or download our free eBook here. We are always looking for podcast guests as well so please let us know if you or someone you know, has a special needs or disability topic you would like to speak about – Contact Us!
You can also join our free Facebook group for the disability community, the “Circle of Care,” or watch the webinars and other speaking events on YouTube. The purpose of this community is to create a space for people to be themselves, ask questions and get support and answers, so please share these resources with your friends!
Listen to the full episode here!
Annette Hines has been practicing in the areas of Special Needs, Elder Law, and Estate Planning for more than 20 years. Ms. Hines brings personal experience with special needs to her practice and podcasts as the mother of two daughters, one of whom passed away from Mitochondrial disease in November 2013. This deep, personal understanding of special needs fuels her passion for quality special needs planning and drives her dedication to help others within the special needs community.