We Can Dream!

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The Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, in partnership with the National Autistic Society, and a number of local authorities, supported a small group of young people with autistic spectrum disorders and their families to have a meaningful life after leaving school.

We know that with the right support young people with autistic spectrum disorders can express creative ideas, dreams and hopes for their future. One way of doing this is to use person-centred planning.  Person-centred planning is a way of planning all aspects of a person’s life. The person is at the centre of the planning process and with support decides who they would like to help them and who can help them make the plans possible. This approach is particularly useful at transition because it gives young people a chance to say what their hopes and dreams for the future are.

Research evaluating person-centred planning by the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities and other partners (Robertson et al, 2005) showed that people with autism were less likely to have a person-centred plan. This was because some of the processes in this approach were not easy to use with people with autism. In this project, we have worked out ways to support people with autism better through the person-centred process.

We Can Dream used the real-life experiences of four young people as they made their way in the world after leaving education.  It showed how person-centred planning tools such as circles of support can be adapted for people with autism, making allowances for their particular needs and preferences. For example:

  • Care should be taken not to include too many people in circle of support meetings. Although it is helpful to include people from different areas of the young person’s life in a circle, too large a meeting can be overwhelming for a person with an autistic spectrum disorder
  • When discussing dreams or aspirations it is tempting to use metaphorical or abstract language.  For people with an autistic spectrum disorder, it is often important to use concrete terms and not to use too many abstract terms.


We produced a booklet based on the stories of the four young people we supported. We hope it gives young people and their families ideas about what to do when they approach the transition to adulthood.

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