Charting the LifeCourse: A Human-Centric Approach to Supporting Persons with Disabilities and their Families
By Michelle C. Reynolds, Ph.D.
All people have the right to live, love, work, play and pursue their life aspirations. This belief drives the Charting the LifeCourse (CtLC) framework and tools. Developed in collaboration with family members and individuals with disabilities, CtLC helps individuals explore and navigate life and the supports they need to achieve their vision and goals. Our tools and resources provide a visual structure for exploring possibilities and developing action steps aligned with a person’s strengths, needs, and aspirations. lifecoursetools.com
The principles of our framework include:
- Focusing on all people, with and without disabilities
- Recognizing the person within the context of their family and their community
- Envisioning a trajectory of life experiences across the lifespan
- Achieving life outcomes
- Holistic focus across life domains
- Supporting the three buckets of needs (discover and navigation; connecting and networking; goods and services)
Our person-centered approach is driving transformational change to policy and practices nationwide for populations with and without disabilities. Individuals with disabilities and their
families are using the LifeCourse tools to enhance problem-solving and self-determination skills. They are using the tools to prepare for and develop school individual education or transition plans. Support coordinators are using the tools to help facilitate person-centered planning meetings for accessing disability services and supports. Families are using the tools to think about the future and to ensure their information and perspective is included in the planning process.
In New Hampshire, CtLC is used across multiple key initiatives. Several years ago, New Hampshire was the first state in the country to explore how CtLC could be used to develop seamless and unified “front door” services across aging and disability services. Currently, the New Hampshire Community of Practice for Supporting Families is working across the state to educate and develop strategies for incorporating the framework and tools into state services and supports. supportstofamilies.org/teams/new-hampshire/.
We need frameworks and tools like CtLC to enhance the service system. It ensures that best practices for supporting people with disabilities and their families are followed. Building systems that center individual choice, voice, and vision, and respond to the rights and dignity of people with disabilities and their families brings us one step closer to a truly inclusive, equitable society.
Attribution Statement: Charting the LifeCourse was developed in collaboration with family members and individuals with disabilities by the University Center on Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the University of Missouri Kansas City Institute for Human Development (UMKC-IHD) in partnership with national and statewide stakeholders. The growth of Charting the LifeCourse is led by an international community of self-advocates, families, and professionals who use LifeCourse daily.
Life Domain Vision Tool lifecoursetools.com/lifecourse-library/foundational-tools/
Forming a vision and beginning to plan for the future in each of the life domains helps plot a trajectory for a full, inclusive, quality life in the community. This tool is to help people of all ages start to think about a more specific vision for life in the future and narrow down what life domain(s) to focus on at this point in time. CtLC-Vision Tool-Person_Centered_2020 (1)
Michelle C. Reynolds, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of LifeCourse Nexus at University of Missouri Kansas City, Institute for Human Development, University Center on Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.
DRC-NH, in collaboration with the UNH Institute on Disability and the New Hampshire Council on Developmental Disabilities, distribute a quarterly RAP sheet to educate community members and policy makers about the latest research, policy, practice, and advocacy issues affecting individuals with disabilities and their families.