California Deafblind Services

Gloria: Planning for the Future

12/18/2009 11:38

The parents of one of the students we have been serving over the years recently asked me to facilitate a MAPs meeting. MAPs stands for Making Action Plans and is a planning meeting designed to think up, dream about, and plan out a person’s future. For more information on this tool, click here. I will refer to the person for which the MAPs meeting was conducted as the student. Here are some of the things that worked very well for this particular MAPs meeting: 

  1. It came from a real need. The family asked for this planning meeting because they felt they needed ideas and support from a large network of people.

  2. Happened during a transition time. The student was about to graduate from high school. More people needed to be involved in her life and new ways of doing things needed to be figured out.

  3. Participants were carefully selected by her parents. The family invited people who cared and knew their child well.

  4. The student was already familiar with the MAPs process before the meeting. It helped the student think about who she was, her history, and some of the things she wanted; to understand at some level that her life was about to change; and when the meeting was held, to sit through the whole meeting calm and content. We met for three hours with a break of fifteen minutes.

  5. The meeting was carefully planned. The parents and I had several conversations before the meeting. CDBS staff advised on things to prepare, and time was carefully tracked during the meeting.

  6. Support for the facilitator. As a facilitator I had the help of two teachers who were also interns in the CDBS-San Francisco State University teacher training program. One summarized ideas and comments throughout the MAPs on chart paper and another documented everything. With this support I was able to concentrate all my attention on facilitating the discussion, as well as having a document ready to give to the family three days after the meeting was held.

  7. The meeting focused on specific themes. There were four themes given as choices: Home, work, community life and social life. The parents decided they wanted the meeting to focus on community life and social life.

  8. The level of caring and creativity from the participants was very high. It was evident they cared and wanted the meeting to be successful. They very insightful, and when the time came for the action plan, they came up with excellent ideas and many of them volunteered to be the person responsible for a particular activity in the action plan.

A few days after the meeting the parents of this student emailed me and said that the meeting gave their whole family a completely different way of perceiving and thinking about their child’s needs and their role in supporting her.

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