Case Management is a presumed collaborative process by a service system for the consumer by delivering an assessment, planning, facilitation, care coordination, evaluation, and advocacy for options and services to meet the community support needs of adult with autism and other developmental disabilities. The support needs are met through communication and available resources to promote quality, cost-effective outcomes. It sounds like an admirable service, doesn’t it? It is, but it has its limitations.
The lens that case managers look through is based on the menu of services available and what the case manager is aware of. Unfortunately, not all service system supports meet the needs of the consumer with autism and frequently box the person into slots that do not always meet their needs. I regularly receive phone calls from families with specific issues they need help with. What I typically discover is that the individual/family are trying to fit their needs into a system service menu item. It’s not that the agency doesn’t have a resource that could help the individual, it’s that the case manager isn’t always familiar with how the agency’s service system works or doesn’t understand the request of the individual/family. In that scenario, communication shuts down.
Common Issues in Case Management
Throughout the past twenty years I have worked for, with, and across the table from service system providers and these things I know for sure;
- Individual/family does not always have a plan in place; rather requests are a response to a crisis situation;
- Case Managers are boxed into a menu of their agency’s services that may or may not meet the needs of the consumer;
- Frequently, there’s not a good relationship or knowledge of the person with autism seeking services from an agency;
- Individual/family is unfamiliar with agency language;
- Valuable history of the person with autism is often forgotten or forfeited for a menu of services or system algorithm assessment
A Person Centered Plan Can Relieve Some of the Frustration with the Process
A Person Centered Plan is an important tool and process that will help capture what is important for the person with autism. It also taps into the group’s knowledge, enlists people into the activities and identifies who is responsible to move the plan towards outcomes. In addition, a facilitator should have a good understanding of autism, experience, respect for the planning process, and communication with the team who can uncover the real needs. The plan serves as an invaluable road map for the individual/family.
What should individuals and families do?
1. Talk about the future, whole life future! But don’t box yourself into silos of services, rather talk about what would be most valued by the adult with autism
2. Educate yourself on service systems.
3. Make a plan! A Person Centered Plan is a great tool to use especially when facilitated and participated by people who care and know the target person.
4. Look at the plan! Once a plan has been developed, look at it, identify the small steps to accomplish the goals.
5. Be flexible! Plans are made to change.
6. Revise and improve the plan at least once a year!
7. Be good to yourself!
All of this can seem overwhelming, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. Plan, don’t box yourself into a service system, identify the need and support resources will follow.