Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

"Creating the Possible"

Video Excerpt

A young adult shares his personal story, and how the services and supports that best meet his individual needs \were identified through a person-centered planning approach, in this excerpt from a DVD made available from Circles Network in the United Kingdom.

Jeanie: I'm Jeanie. I'm Matt's mom and a Member of Matt's circle group.

Matt's experience with transition was a very negative experience. The word transition means you are going from one to another. Matt didn't know where he was going. None of us knew where he was going, and nobody else knew where he could go. So we were very much in limbo and Matt was in theory was going nowhere.

While Matt was in transition, he met adult services in the form of a social worker. And the social worker that he met had knowledge of Circles Network. And we were kindly introduced to Nadine. And Nadine then explained to Matt and myself exactly what a Circles consisted of.

Matt chose everybody in his circle. He would have preferred some pop stars and things like that, but obviously one must keep to limitations, but everybody in Matt's circle was his own choice.

Before Matt's circle could actually move into its own roles of how each individual performs, we first had to establish how we are doing this for. So we had to first of all learn, who was Matt? We then devised with Matt what he would like to do, where he wanted to go, what his future was going to consist of. And be that from just the trip from the shops, to a hot holiday abroad, it was where Matt saw his future going.

Matt's dreams were very varied, from wanting to be a father, to going to a Motown concert, to having some kind of an army experience, and having a holiday, a hot holiday for lads only. Not a holiday you take your mother on.

Brother 1: Yes, since Matt has circled me, I think his social life and his friendships have actually overtaken what I've got. He meets a lot more people. He goes to a lot more places. And it highlights the fact that there are a lot of people out there that actually care for him.

Jeanie: Vehicles are important to Matt. Matt is a vehicle lover. But Matt's own vehicle is more important because he is not actually asking anybody to take him somewhere. He actually saying, “I have the means to get there, I just need to find a person to take me.” There's not many young lads that actually get their mothers to take them everywhere, when they're trying to lead independent lives.

Matt's adores football. He loves to watch football in every shape or form. He does go to see local teams, but Matt had the opportunity to be invited to go see Ipswich play Sunderland last weekend. And this was made possible by Simon being able to drive Matt there. Then on top of that we realized that Matt's friend, Thomas, whom he's known since he was a little boy, also had the needs to go to a football match. So Matt invited Thomas to go with him to that match.

Matt actually gains a lot from having a circle. Matt adores to be the center of attention. And Matt loves the fact that people are there to try to make things positive for him. He accepts that some things are negative, some things have to be put back on hold, that some things just don't work. And where better to discuss that than in a circle amongst friends where you are comfortable.

He receives direct payments. Matt chooses his carers and Matt does not hesitate to say if he is uncomfortable with any carers that he has. And that is freedom of speech, that's Matt's choice. Matt has been given that choice all the way along.

He has a garden the size of a football pitch. And he welcomes having the ball kicked at him on regular occasions with his brothers. Matt has a palace – it's a man pad, it's not a chintzy female home. It's what Matt chose. Matt was given the plans when it was being built. We took regular visits to the site and begged to the workmen that we could scramble over the bricks to have a look in. And he was handed over the keys 18 months ago.

You can love your children, but does not mean to say that you have to live with your children forever when they are adults. And anybody who's moved out of the family home, if there is a need to move back in there can be some sort of strain, and that's exactly what Matt had done. He'd moved out of the family home, gone to college, and come back. He'd got an expectation, we've got an expectation, and they weren't actually the same. I adore Matt to be an independent. Matt adores being independent and I do like him very much.

Brother 2: He's opened up as a as a person, he's sort of been able to achieve goals that he wanted for a long time but never been able to achieve. From Matt's circle I get a real sense of satisfaction that I've helped my brother achieve something.

Brother 1: It more of a sense that all my life you see people who say they are willing to help Matt and yet it doesn't actually happen, nothing materializes. And yet the Circle meeting has brought everyone together to do something and to actually get him active.

Jeanie: If you go back to the very very beginning, when this teenager was heading home from college and we heard about Circles, back to then I would actually say that there would be no possibility of changing anything. But here we are over two years later and Matt's life has changed dramatically. If it wasn't for Circles he wouldn't achieved half the things he's achieved. He's got his home, he's got carers, he's got direct payments, he has independence of me and my husband. It's made everything possible.

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The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center, the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.

This project was supported, in part by grant number 2301MNSCDD-02, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.

This website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $1,120,136.00 with 83 percent funded by ACL/HHS and $222,000.00 and 17 percent funded by non-federal-government source(s). The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.