Module 1: Introduction to Picture My Future

How can Picture My Future help people with disability?

Picture My Future offers many benefits to people with disability and allows them to become more engaged in their planning process as a result. Picture My Future can help people with disability in the following ways:

  • A way to organise thoughts
  • A way to express themselves
  • A way to become more empowered and engaged in their planning
  • Motivation to explore new avenues and options
  • A way to document important things now and in the future

A way to organise thoughts

Picture My Future offers another way for people with disability to organise their thoughts and communicate those thoughts in a different way. This is important for people with disability for a number of reasons.

  • Many people with intellectual disability have communication and cognitive impairments that impact on their ability to talk about their hopes and dreams.
  • Abstract concepts can be difficult for people with disability to understand.
  • Using pictures of people and things that are important to them or that they would like for their future can assist people to communicate more effectively with planners.

The process of getting people with disability to think about the things that they like and dislike and the things that are important to them, helps them to anchor their thoughts in the present and gives them a context for thinking about the future.

Picture My Future encourages people with disability to consider areas in their lives that they may not normally think about.  Choosing pictures that represent the people, places and things that are important to them, then organising those pictures according to their wishes allows people with disability to produce a personalised record of their goals and aspirations.

Sam’s Story

Sam has always had a great interest in flowers and regularly looks at pictures of flowers on the internet. Her love of flowers was well known to her family and support staff. Through the Picture My Future process, Sam was able to organise her ideas about what the flower pictures she had collected meant to her. She expressed a desire to paint pictures of flowers and make cards from the photos she had taken for family and friends. She also wanted to learn more about the names of the flowers that she looked at on the internet, and visit a flower farm at least once a year.

A way to express themselves

For people with disability with limited verbal communication, Picture My Future can be a valuable tool as it gives them an opportunity to tell their stories through pictures. Whether people choose to take photos of the things that are important to them, or whether they select photos from a Picture Library, pictures offer a different way of communicating their goals.

People with disability may be able to communicate their hopes and dreams for the future through pictures where previously their voices might not have been heard.

Pictures may depict good and bad things in a person’s life, and sometimes they can provide a way of exploring difficult subjects.  It is important to look at the pictures that have been selected, but to also keep in mind the things that aren’t in the pictures, as these things may be important as well.

Belinda’s Story

Belinda loves cats and always had them as pets when she lived with her family. However, since moving into supported accommodation, she feels really sad that she no longer has a cat.  Belinda uses verbal language in a limited way and the subject of pets has never been raised in her planning meetings.

Through the Picture My Future process, Belinda is able to express her desire to have a cat as a pet.

A way to become more empowered and engaged in their planning

Picture My Future offers people with disability the opportunity to explore all aspects of their lives. While many people may choose pictures that relate to personal goals in their lives, Picture My Future may also be used as a tool for self-advocacy.  One of the benefits of Picture My Future is that the person is able to control the pictures that they choose to communicate about their lives, and in doing so control the story that they want to tell.

The resource created from the Picture My Future approach is a powerful tool that allows people with disability to engage in the planning process to the fullest extent.

Making a picture resource that offers additional insight into the things that are important to the person to take to a planning meeting is an empowering process for that person. It also offers a unique insight into the person as they participate more fully in their planning process.

Jemma’s Story

Jemma loves to travel and goes on interstate trips with friends several times a year. Jemma is frustrated by the lack of wheelchair accessible taxis available at the airport, and the fact that those taxis have to queue with all the non-wheelchair accessible taxis, often making for a long trip home for Jemma.

Through the Picture My Future process, Jemma was able to express her frustration at this situation and advocate for a change.

Motivation to explore new avenues and options

Picture My Future uses pictures that people with disability choose from a variety of sources, including photos that they take themselves. The process offers a number of potential opportunities for people with disability to learn new skills including photography and using new technologies.

The Picture My Future process encourages a person with disability to thoroughly explore new options in his or her life as it allows the person time and space to do so.

Making a Picture My Future Resource is a creative process that can also offer opportunities for learning new skills. There are many options for people with disability to display their pictures including:

  • a photo book
  • a poster
  • a slideshow
  • an online album

Alice’s Story

Alice had never used a camera before completing the Picture My Future process. She found the process of learning to take photos and uploading them into an online slideshow such an enjoyable process that one of the goals she identified was a desire to do a photography course.

A way to document important things now and in the future

The Picture My Future resource produced at the end of the process is a living document. It reflects a snapshot of a person’s life and goals at a point in time, but it is important to remember that those things will change over time.

Picture My Future is an approach that can be implemented at regular intervals during the planning cycle and the resource can be updated accordingly.

Many people with disability find the process of exploring their goals through pictures to be an enjoyable one, and the production of a pictorial record of their lives to be a valuable experience.

Jason’s Story 

Jason really enjoyed creating a Picture My Future Resource that documented his goal of enrolling in a TAFE course to learn more about horticulture. One year on, Jason is keen to find a job in a nursery or as a landscape gardener, and he has added new pictures to his resource to reflect this.