Peter and Penny lean towards each other across a table

Penny’s PATH

Each year, a team of friends, family, educators, and community members gathers to support and encourage Penny as we plan for her future.

This annual meeting is called a PATH. We talk with Penny about what she sees as her accomplishments, strengths, and hopes and dreams for the future. I’ve written about this experience before (go here), so I won’t go into all the details again, but I will highlight a few things that seem important for every parent and educator to consider about every child and their future. 

The PATH is a person-centered, assets-based, community-resourced process. 


Penny communicates her hopes and dreams for herself. Peter and I chime in by saying that we see her abilities as a writer and a public speaker and that we have dreams for her to learn how to ride a bike. But she speaks for herself, and we seek to honor and support her vision for her life. 


We focus on areas of strength and possibility. Much disability work focuses on deficits, areas that need growth, and milestones that haven’t been reached. Instead of asking, “What can’t she do?” a PATH asks, “What can you do? What do you love?” We assume there is a future filled with promise and possibility and take steps towards that future. 


Penny is not alone. We as parents are not alone. We work within a network of support that includes state services, community care through institutions like churches and non-profits, and relationships with neighbors and colleagues and friends. 

At the end of each year, we create an action plan with specific, achievable goals. Doing laundry. Cooking one meal a week. Finding a summer job. Penny helps create the plan. And we all participate in small ways in seeing that plan become a reality.

Person-centered. Assets-based. Community-resourced. 

And filled with hope.

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