PATH plan opens world of possibilities
Until Auckland mother Jo took part in creating a PATH plan for her son Jamie, she didn’t think he would ever go to a mainstream school.
“We had bottomed out. Jamie was getting more aggressive and cracks were starting to show. We had compartmentalised our lives and Jamie’s life. He went to a special needs school and to respite care. People would say they thought we only had two sons, because they never saw Jamie with us. There was no vision of where we could go from here, it was very much a holding pattern.”
The family’s home had high fences and locks on every gate and door to prevent Jamie from wandering away. In 2012, a friend put Jo in touch with Sue Robertson from ImagineBetter, who gave her a new perspective.
“We were told that we couldn’t expect society to accept Jamie if we hadn’t given society a chance to know him,” Jo says. “We realised that we couldn’t change him but we could change how we communicated with him.”
One of the visions in Jamie’s first PATH plan in 2012 was for him to enrol at a mainstream school. Jamie joined his brothers at their school but he only lasted a term. Despite the difficulties the family experienced, they refused to give up. “We still had that really strong vision from the PATH that this was the way to go.”
This year, now that Jamie is 11, he has moved to an intermediate school, where Jo says he has settled in well. “We’re finally moving forward.”
In March 2015, the family created another PATH plan, this time with Jamie’s teacher, two teacher aides and carer in attendance. His teacher has since helped with establishing a Circle of Friends and his Circle recently organised an autism fundraiser in Jamie’s honour.
Jamie’s school experience has improved his communication and behaviour, Jo says. “We are no longer reliant on services. Jamie now catches the bus to and from school with his brothers and we can leave our front gate open and not worry that he’ll bolt. We’re happy as a family and Jamie’s happy.”
Jo says ImagineBetter’s PATH plan is great for “pulling people in and sparking what could be”. “It’s taken two years to get to this point, but the vision in Jamie’s PATH plan was so strong and made such sense.”
Doing a PATH plan and then later joining Partners inspired Jo to help others through the process. She recently became a Partners Advisor and is working with two women in Auckland – a role that she says is “challenging and exciting”.
With support from ImagineBetter, Steven is continuing to pursue his passion for fitness.
“Someone to bounce ideas off” is just one reason Alison enjoys working with her son’s Local Area Coordinator (LAC).