As discussed in Module 2, people with intellectual disability may have difficulty expressing themselves:
- they may use a variety of communication modes that may or may not be easily understood by others.
- they may have trouble with complex language, concepts of time and organising their thinking.
Using images, pictures and objects can help people to communicate important information, and to organise their thoughts and ideas.
Picture My Future offers a method of using images to support identification of what is important to a person and to promote discussion.
One support person who used Picture My Future explains the outcomes for a group of people with intellectual disability:
‘It gave people another way to express ideas and wishes, some that they had never even thought of before, which only became more apparent when they had a chance to see their interests through a lens and share and show them to others … we were uncovering some things that had been left behind and even neglected for people. Sometimes seeing what people couldn’t photograph and wished they could also provided insights for us.
It was really another communication tool….’
Picture My Future offers a range of benefits for people with intellectual disability that relate directly to the problems they may experience in expressing themselves:
- It uses visual images – these can be more easily understood by both the person with intellectual disability and by the support person and planner;
- It uses concrete images – these help overcome difficulties related to unclear communication as well as abstract concepts;
- People are able to be more in control of what images to select (e.g. what photos to take, what images to collect from elsewhere);
- Images provide a way of working with information – by gathering together images on common topics, and adding labels to capture meaning. Images can also be sorted into those ‘most important’ to the person;
- Simple language or text can be added to supplement the communication process;
- The final product is a collection of pictures and text which can be used to communicate with a range of people, including the planner.
Generally we have found that most people who have used this process have enjoyed it, have felt ‘listened to’ and have felt able to ‘talk’ about themselves through the pictures.