What is it Really?

Imagine it’s a warm, spring day and you and a friend are walking by a community park and you notice the cheering, yelling and activity coming from the baseball field.

“Look,” your friend says. “Those kids are really taking their baseball game seriously.” You get caught up in the enthusiasm and decide to stop and watch a while.

There are two teams, bats and balls, three bases and home plate, a pitcher and a catcher, players take turns hitting and fielding after three outs, a batter is only allowed three strikes, and the winning team has scored the most runs at the end of the game.

But what you see is six players on a team instead of nine—not enough kids showed up—the ball being used is a softball, no gloves are being used and the pitcher throws the ball underhand. Because there are no umpires around to call balls and strikes, the concept of balls (or non-strike zone pitches) is not used. It’s a small city park, so there is not enough land to have the bases 90 feet apart, so 75 feet is the compromise. There is no advancing from one base to another by stealing and whether or not a ball hit by a batter near the foul line is foul or fair is always a matter of dispute, and so forth. It is obvious that official baseball rules, or softball rules for that matter, are not being followed.

So the question emerges, “Are the kids playing baseball or are they playing a game that is modeled after baseball but can be changed or modified as circumstances dictate and as participants decide? Does it make a difference? To whom? Why?”

In a similar vane, think with me for a few moments about person-centered planning. Perhaps you and your friend can sit in on a person-centered planning meeting. What will you see? Will it make a difference?

The truth is that there are no official rules of person-centered planning and there probably shouldn’t be any, but that doesn’t mean that sound person-centered principles shouldn’t be followed. The end game should be the same—to assist a person to live their best possible life.