Young girl with cerebral palsy smiles at camera while sitting in her wheelchair at home
Renee is a 6 year old. She has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair. She lives with her mother, father and two older sisters in northwestern Minnesota. Renee attends a neighborhood school in a special education classroom. She has many friends with and without disabilities. Her family has always been careful to give her many opportunities to participate in a variety of activities.
When it was first proposed, Renee’s mom was not enthusiastic about a Personal Futures Plan. She thought that it would not be effective for a person as young as Renee. For that reason, she did not bring Renee to the planning meetings. She had her remain in school. By the end of the first meeting, here mom was in tears. She realized for the first time that Renee had never had a birthday party. The family was always so busy seeing to her needs that they forgot to celebrate her! Plans were immediately set in motion to have a big birthday celebration.
Through her mom, Renee communicated her own dreams at the second meeting. She wanted to stop wearing diapers and wear panties like the other girls. She wanted to learn to walk someday. Tears flowed again as her mom acknowledged that she should have realized that Renee wanted to become toilet trained. It had been easier for mom to keep Renee in diapers. Because of Renee’s disabilities, it was not known if toilet training would be possible. Mom decided that it was time to use training panties regardless of the success of toilet training. Renee is also involved in intensive physical and occupational therapy. Walking independently, probably with the aid of braces, is one of the goals she wants to achieve.
Renee’s mom changed her mind about the usefulness of the Personal Futures Planning process for a child of six. She said that Renee’s plan helped the whole family to see her in a new way. They see her as the delightful little girl she really is.
Renee’s mom and her county case manager worked together at several quarterly and annual meetings. There had previously been no significant collaborative relationship. As a result of the two days of Personal Futures Planning meetings, they decided there was need to carry out training for other parents in the area. Together they designed and are carrying out that training.