Module 5: Using pictures to explore hopes and dreams

Limitations and challenges associated with using Picture My Future

  • Not all people with an intellectual disability will have the ability to benefit from the Picture My Future approach. Some will not have the cognitive ability to recognise images, or understand the concept of future.
  • People with cognitive impairment can vary considerably in their concentration and level of engagement from one day to the next. This is also commonly the case for those with mental health issues.  It is important to take this into account when introducing the task and ascertaining their interest and capacity to undertake the task. 

In practice, a person might be interested one day, but not the next; they might be able to engage in the process one day, but not the next.

  • Some people with intellectual disability will have little or no experience of using a camera or the internet, so will require significant support in collecting images.
  • The support required to collect relevant and meaningful pictures can be very time consuming. Some people may not have access to the support required to collect pictures. Others, who do have access to support, may not have sufficient hours of support to complete the process thoroughly.
  • Some people may want to collect their pictures over a timeframe that is longer than expected (e.g. a person may divide the task into sections (work life,  home life, family, friends etc.). It is important that there is a balance between completing the task in a way that works for the person, and a way which ensures it is completed as thoroughly as possible in the timeframe available.
  • The final document, developed after completing the Picture My Future approach, may only be relevant to the time it is completed. Life circumstances can change at any moment in time, which can then influence a person’s priorities, goals and dreams.
  • Some people may present photos solely or largely documenting their lives over the past week. Try to use these as a springboard to discuss what activities /things they like most and why, and which they like least or would like to change. This may lead to identification of both what is important to maintain about life now, as well as what may be important in the future.
  • There may be some goals for which there is no picture. Some things are difficult to photograph, and while pictures can provide an insight into the things that are important to the person, it is important to record information supplied during the Picture My Future process, even where no picture has been supplied. 
  • Sometimes, while looking at pictures, people might also want to talk about other things, for which they don’t have a picture.  Writing down what they say, or asking them to draw a picture of what they want to talk about, can help them to focus on and think about what is important to them.  Recording their words or a hand drawn picture can help the person remember what they said when it comes time to talk about it again at their planning meeting.

It is also important to remember that goals for the future may include maintaining access to people and things that the person already has, even if they don’t appear in the photos.

  • The photos and other images the person gathers and uses are only part of the broader process of ‘picturing my future’