large piece of paper on a white board with writing from Penny's PATH meeting

The Disability Community Needs Grandparents Like These

I spoke with the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress Grandparents support group this week by Zoom, and what struck me most was that they all just want a good future for their children and grandchildren.

They don’t care about meeting milestones. They are so happy to show up and spend time with their grandkids. They don’t need them to conform to societal expectations or make lots of money. They just want their kids and their grandkids to know that they are loved, and to live into a good future.

We could have talked about all sorts of things, but the biggest topic became our experience with person-centered planning, which has been offered to us for the past seven years through our school district. Ours is called MAPS/PATHS. Others are called Charting a Life Course. In either case, the idea is that a team of people—friends, family, teachers, therapists, other supporters from within a child’s community—gather together to plan for their future.

Penny started down this path in middle school when she said she wanted to work at Chipotle and go to college and live with friends in an apartment. As a team, we’ve all taken steps. Learning to do laundry. Spending time on Sunday afternoons looking at Google classroom to anticipate homework for the week ahead. Working in a local cafe over the summer. Step by step, together, we’ve not only walked towards the future she hopes for. We’ve also believed she can get there.

All of us can be a small part of a large network of support for the young adults (with and without disabilities!) in our midst. I’m grateful for these grandparents who reminded me that we aren’t alone, and that we are headed towards a good future.

Here are some more resources:




Penny in Her Own Words: The PATH Process and Planning for the Future

Penny’s PATH Process: Planning for Life After High School

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