How do I plan services for a person with autism?

For services to be effective, efficient and meet a person’s needs they must be planned. Services for people with autism need to be well coordinated, consistent and always take into consideration the goals, needs and wants of the person with autism.
As part of the Disability Act in Victoria (2006) the person must have a plan that outlines the persons care needs and the plan must be reviewed and updated regularly. The person, their family and other supporters must have input into the plan.

The person should have as much say in the planning of their services as possible. Many people with high functioning autism are able to take charge of their plans (with appropriate support) and give directions about their care needs. People with higher support needs or communication impairments can still contribute to the planning process and make choices when given support.

Tips for planning

• Think in a way that is person centered- proactively thinking about the needs and wishes of the person, not of the agency, staffing or budget constraints etc.
• Proactively think about how to help make this person’s life better and how to help them achieve their dreams.
• Sit and learn about the person you are working with (include family, friends and other support people) planning should be a team effort and approach.
• Value the knowledge and lived experience of the person, their family and support people.
• Think outside the square-plans can take many formats. Those that use visuals including personal photos,pictures are more meaningful and accessible to the person.

• Planning should be conducted in an environment that the person is comfortable, with people that love and support the person and know them well and be documented in a style that works for the person – this could include on a DVD or an interactive computer program.

• Plans should be dynamic living documents that contain lots of info about the person and include visuals- not a drab document that lives in a filing cabinet.

• Planning should use a whole of life approach and take into consideration all of the areas of the person’s life- if the person is having difficulty in some areas then this will impact on other areas.

Topics to discuss when planning (these are suggested but the scope is limitless)
• Needs
• Wants
• Goals (short term, long term, lifelong or service specific )
• Dreams (what does this person want to do in their life?)
• Important People Places and Things (family, pets, hobbies etc.)
• Things that are needed to keep the person happy safe and well
• Communication style and abilities
• Any noteworthy dislikes or sensory concerns
• Current supports used
• Current linkages with the community
• Behavioral, communication, sensory or medical concerns should not limit the scope of planning

Resources to help with planning
• Easy read booklets and materials
• Photo, pictorial or Compic materials
• Clearly written documents
• Good pre knowledge of the client- it is hard to plan with someone you don’t know anything about.
• Butchers paper and bright writing materials- dream big and brainstorm ideas for documenting in other ways later on.

Further information

Person centered thinking and planning –
http://www.helensandersonassociates.co.uk/reading-room.aspx

Valid has some easy read information that may be useful which can be downloaded and printed
http://www.valid.org.au/

DHS planning policy and guidelines
http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/for-individuals/disability