Chipping Away at the Mountain: Your Action Plan

Quick Overview

The speaker discusses the importance of having an action plan and navigating the journey of accessing services for individuals with disabilities. They mention the use of trip ticks as an analogy for planning the journey. They provide tips on finding and accessing services, such as contacting local agencies, parent training information centers, and disability networks. They also discuss the role of case managers in accessing services and the different choices and options available, such as community living supports, rehabilitation support waivers, and respite care. The speaker emphasizes the importance of advocating for one’s child and being proactive in finding the right services and supports. They also mention the availability of ABLE accounts for saving money without affecting benefits, and the importance of networking and connecting with others who have similar experiences.


In this talk, we will discuss the action plan for navigating the complex world of adult services for individuals with disabilities. We will provide insights and tips based on our own experiences and offer guidance on finding the right resources and support. Whether you are just starting out or looking to make changes to your current situation, we hope to provide you with a roadmap to help you on your journey.

The Trip Tick Analogy

To help illustrate the process of navigating adult services, we will use the analogy of a trip tick. Just like the old AAA trip ticks that provided maps and information for road trips, we aim to give you a clear picture of where you are and where you need to go. Just like planning a trip, finding the right services and supports requires careful planning and research.

Assessing Your Current Situation

Before you can determine your action plan, it is important to assess your current situation. Take the time to evaluate where you are at and what your needs and goals are. Consider the following questions:

  • What services are currently available to you or your loved one?
  • Are these services meeting your needs?
  • What are your long-term goals and aspirations?
  • Are there any gaps in your current services or supports?

Finding the Right Resources

Once you have assessed your current situation, it is time to start finding the right resources and supports. Here are some key steps to consider:

  1. Research National Agencies: Start by researching national agencies that specialize in disability services. These agencies often have valuable information and can help connect you with local resources.

  2. Contact Developmental Disability Council: Every state should have a Developmental Disability Council. Reach out to them for guidance and information on available services and supports.

  3. Utilize Parent Training Information Centers: Many states have parent training information centers that can provide valuable guidance and support. These centers often work in conjunction with local agencies and can help you navigate the system.

  4. Connect with Local Disability Networks: Your local disability network can be a great resource for finding services and supports in your area. Reach out to them for information and guidance.

  5. Contact Local Arc: The Arc is a national organization that provides support and advocacy for individuals with disabilities and their families. Your local Arc chapter can be a valuable resource for finding services and supports.

  6. Call Your Local Mental Health Agency: If you are looking for case management services, contact your local mental health agency. They can assign you a case manager who will be your gateway to services.

Exploring Service Options

Once you have connected with the right resources, it is time to explore service options. Consider the following factors:

  1. Types of Services: Research the different types of services available in your area. This may include community living supports, rehabilitation support waivers, or respite care.

  2. Housing Options: Consider the different housing options available, such as living in a group home, supported living situations, or living in your own home. Think about what would be the best fit for your family.

  3. Agency vs. Self-Determination Model: Decide whether you want to go with an agency model or a self-determination model. The self-determination model requires more training and involvement, but it can offer more flexibility and control.

  4. Funding and Budgeting: Understand the funding options available to you, such as Medicaid waivers or self-determination budgets. Create a budget that takes into account the costs of services and supports.

Planning for the Future

As you navigate the world of adult services, it is important to plan for the future. Consider the following steps:

  1. Establish a Special Needs Trust: Set up a special needs trust to ensure that your loved one is provided for in the future. This can help protect their assets and ensure they continue to receive necessary services and supports.

  2. Explore ABLE Accounts: Look into ABLE accounts, which allow individuals with disabilities to save money without affecting their eligibility for benefits. These accounts can provide additional financial security.

  3. Develop a Support Network: Build a support network of professionals, friends, and family members who can help you navigate the system and provide support when needed.

  4. Advocate for Your Loved One: Be a strong advocate for your loved one, ensuring their needs are met and their rights are protected. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, challenge decisions, and seek out the best possible services and supports.


Navigating the world of adult services can be overwhelming, but with careful planning and research, you can develop an action plan that meets your needs and goals. Remember to reach out to national and local resources for guidance and support, and don’t hesitate to advocate for your loved one. By chipping away at the mountain, one step at a time, you can create a path to a fulfilling and independent future.

Talk details

  • Title: Chipping Away at the Mountain: Your Action Plan
  • Author(s): Todd Robertson, Kathy Johnson, Pat Hornbecker
  • Author(s)’ affiliation: None
  • Publication date: 2019-10-10
  • Collection: 2019 ASF Family Conference