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Transitions

My son, Matthew, is currently in year 9 at Maplewood School. He has autism, learning difficulties and has limited speech. He uses symbols, PECS, makaton signing and words to communicate. Matthew had his year 9 Person Centred Planning Transition Review in May. I was quite concerned to begin with because I had heard from others that their experience had not been positive, leaving the family with no clear picture of what was going on. However, for us with Matthew this did not appear to be the case.

Matthew's class teacher made an appointment with me to go into school so she could talk to me about the process – what to expect, how to prepare, who might be there and how Matthew would prepared. She gave me a manual to look through over the Easter holidays and then I started my own preparation.

Those invited were done so specifically to support Matthew and those who work closely with him. Matthew had extensive preparation with a folder and time to work through it at school. He chose his music (Mozart), biscuits (Jaffa cakes) and drinks. He made everyone's drink and served them. He was relaxed, calm, involved and, as much as I could tell, was aware it was concerning him.

Specifically Person Centred Planning (PCP) is directly and solely concerned and centred around the student. What is important to him now and in the future. What is needed to keep him safe and healthy. What is working now or not! Any issues he is struggling with and what questions could or might need to be asked. From all of this an Action Plan is formed.

From our point we prepared for the PCP by considering what we – separately – as a family like, love and admire about Matthew. What we see individually are his strengths and where he may need support. I asked all the members of close family – myself, Matthew's Dad, older sister and Grandmother to write out what they liked and admired about Matthew. I also consulted his TAB carers and the Manager of our Library (he spends alot of time in there) to do the same. I typed these up in 2 formats – plain text and in symbols so Matthew could read them. This proved a positive thing for Matthew.

At the actual review after welcome and each attendee sharing their thoughts on what they liked and admired about Matthew we all concentrated on the topics outlined previously.

Matthew's class teacher had put flipchart paper around the room and everyone moved around writing comments on each sheet. Matthew had also been given the means to be involved in this part of the review too by using symbols to stick onto the sheets.

The year 9 PCP Review is designed to focus on what is important to the young person, what support they need and what is working or not in their life. This happened at Matthew's review with everyone present participating in a positive manner to start the process for Matthew.

I was really pleased with how it went; it exceeded all of my expectations and it will be interesting to see how this proceeds in year 10 where the focus moves on to what is possible and prioritizing which ones the young person wants to focus on.

Ruth Goodman
June 2013

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