Frontline Initiative Choice, Direction, and Control

Dream-Inspired Planning

We all dream. Our dreams motivate us. They help us decide what we want and need to do today, tomorrow, and into the future. Our dreams are as unique as we are. But we all might have dreams in common. We want to write a lifelong, personal story that reflects our strengths. We want a life that rewards us for having the courage to pursue our vision of success. When we share our dreams with people we trust, they can work with us. They can dream with us. They can help us lead lives based on our abilities and preferences. We call this “Dream-Inspired Planning.”

People with disabilities create and take part in many plans. Some examples are individualized education plans (IEPs), individualized plans for employment (IPEs), individualized service plans (ISPs), person-centered plans, and plans for achieving self sufficiency (PASS). When these plans are connected to the person’s dreams, it becomes easier to organize support and understanding among team members and across programs. Without dreams to unify them, plans are uninspired. They result in less motivation, commitment, innovation, and achievement.

Direct support professionals (DSPs) can play a key role in Dream-Inspired Planning. DSPs presume and support people’s competence. They can help people communicate vivid and meaningful dreams. One way to do this is to help people create dream boards. Dream boards are a universal tool. They are not just for people with disabilities. People make dream boards by writing words, drawing pictures, and attaching photographs or other memorabilia to a piece of paper. They attach and arrange the material in a way that represents or demonstrates their dreams and desires. In that way, people express their thoughts and aspirations visually. This encourages sharing, understanding, and collaboration.

Dream boards can start conversations with friends, family members, and service providers. They can lead to new opportunities for support, growth, and achievement. Even when a person’s dreams are not tangible or possible, they communicate visions and values that can shape service plans. This can ensure that those plans focus on what is most important to the person. That way, the person’s formal goals and objectives will be truly person-centered. We have helped people and providers in several states create Dream-Inspired Planning projects. We know that identifying and communicating dreams can sometimes be hard work. Some people may have never been asked what they really want. They’ll need support from people they trust. DSPs can help them come up with creative ways to envision, communicate, and move toward their dreams. That support can help people develop a roadmap that guides their journey through life. It can empower them to meet new people, have new experiences, learn new things, and dream new dreams.