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Person-Centered Planning for Students

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) requires that a student’s Individualized Education Program include transition planning by age 16 or earlier, if appropriate. This plan should reflect a student’s interests and preferences, current accomplishments and skills, what they still need to learn, as well as what they want to do in life. This can include a range of goals – everything from the type of career the student would like to pursue to the kind of living situation he or she hopes to have. Person-centered planning is a way to identify a student’s individual goals and to help students, families, and professionals craft plans that will support students as they strive to achieve their dreams....

Despite growing interest in using person-centered planning to drive the transition process, it is not yet common practice. One reason for this may be that many people believe this process is too time-consuming. What they may not realize is that person-centered planning may be more efficient in the long run. The best transition plans truly reflect student-family goals for the future, which helps the team avoid time-consuming guesswork....

Many different person-centered planning tools have been developed that could be used in the transition process: MAPs, Personal Futures Planning, PATH planning, Essential Lifestyle Planning, and Dream Cards are a few examples. The following are online resources with more information: PACER Center (, PEATC (, IMPACT: Transition to Empowered Life-styles Project Person-Centered Planning (

Excerpted and adapted with permission from Parent Brief: Person-Centered Planning – A Tool for Transition (2004), published by the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition, Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota. The entire brief is online at


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Retrieved from the Web site of the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota ( Citation: Gaylord, V., Agosta, J., Barclay, J., Melda, K. & Stenhjem, P. (Eds.). (2006). Impact: Feature Issue on Parenting Teens and Young Adults with Disabilities 19(2). [Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration.]

The PDF version of this Impact, with photos and graphics, is also online at

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