On this page you will find tools, resources and practical advice on different skills that we hope you will find useful.

If you have any questions,  you can contact us and we will try to answer them for you.

Making decisions

Decisions can be big or small, some are hardly noticeable and some can lead to big changes to your life.                                         

Below is some further information about decision making and advice to help you with the process

Mental capacity

When it comes to making a decision, you might hear the term ‘mental capacity’                                        

Mental capacity means feeling able to understand a decision that needs to be made, think about it and then communicate your views, wishes and feelings about it.

You have the right to be included in decisions about your education and future, unless you feel that it is too difficult for you to be.                                        

You can read more about mental capacity in this leaflet by Supportive Parents.                                        

Shared decision making

Shared decision making means that you will be working with others to come up with the goals that you will be working towards or the treatment or support options that you might need.                                        

This could include working with your parents/carers, support worker, professionals or a supporting agency, team or service.                                                              

Shared decision making will take a person centred approach, which means giving you all the information that you need and listening to your views, wishes and feelings about it.                                                            

You might find this video by Anna Freud on shared decision making, or this video on person centred planning helpful.                                                               

Steps for decision making

You likely make decisions all the time such as what to wear, what to eat but what about when it comes to the bigger decisions for your life and your education?                                                           

It is usually helpful to break down the decision making into steps, such as:                                                           

  • What is the decision that needs to be made?
  • What are the options to choose from?
  • What is the likely outcome of each option?
  • What is good about each option, what do you like about it?
  • What is bad about each option, what do you dislike about it?
  • Which one feels like the best one for you?
  • What needs to happen next?
  • How will you know it was a good decision for you?

You could write your thoughts down and/or talk it through with someone you trust.        

You could also talk about your goals, what you want to happen and what is the end outcome you want to reach.        

Practice making decisions whenever you can, even small ones are helpful.        

What can I do?

To help you plan, prepare and make decisions, you could think about:        

  • Do you think you have all the information you need?
  • Do you know what the possible options and outcomes are? Are they clear?
  • Do you know why the decision is important and what might happen?
  • Do you have any questions you need to ask?
  • Do you feel rushed or under pressure to make the decision? Take your time to think about it.
  • Do you need to meet a few times to make the decision?
  • What feels right or wrong to you about it? Explore these feelings. Does it feel achievable, scary, safe or exciting for example?
  • Is there a way to break the decision down into smaller ones? Can you make a plan to lead up to a bigger change?
  • Have you made any similar decisions before – how did they go?, Did you learn anything from them?
  • What would happen if you didn’t like the outcome? What would you do?
  • What might be the worst that could happen? Is this a risk you want to take or feel prepared for?
  • Is everyone involved in the process that you think should be?
  • Do you feel comfortable discussing any personal information?
  • Do you know what will happen to all the information?

You could write your thoughts down and/or talk it through with someone you trust.        

Capturing your views, wishes and feelings

The law says that what you think is very important and should be at the centre of any planning that is being done for your education and future.       

What you think is often known as ' your views, wishes and feelings        

This means that your dreams and goals are really important too and that those supporting you should be listening to you and helping you work towards achieving them.

How views can be captured

It can be helpful to prepare what you want to share with others.        

You can ask someone to help you to prepare and record your views, wishes and feelings, such as a parent/ carer or support worker.       

Remember, this process is about what you think not what other people think. They will get their own chance to speak or provide them separately.

There are many ways that you can share your views such as:        

  • Making a list of key things
  • Writing it all down
  • Drawing pictures
  • Making a diagram of key things
  • Making a powerpoint
  • Making a collage
  • Recording yourself, or making a VLOG
  • Making a journal of your thoughts and feelings

Me First have produced some resources on sharing your views that you might find helpful.        

What can I do?

To help you plan and prepare to capture your views, wishes and feelings, you could think about:

  • Who you are – what is great about you and what do others say that they like about you?
  • How do you like to communicate with others?
  • How do you like others to communicate with you?
  • How you are feeling?
  • What are your hobbies and interests?
  • What is important to you?
  • Who is important to you?
  • What is going well at home?
  • What could be better at home?
  • What is going well at your school, college or setting?
  • What could be better at your school, college or setting?
  • What are your goals and wishes for your future?
  • What do you think would help you with this?
  • How can others support you to do your best?

You could write your thoughts down and/or talk it through with someone you trust.        

Sharing your views, wishes and feelings

When it comes to sharing your views, wishes and feelings, this might be something that you feel comfortable doing yourself, or you prefer someone else to do this for you.        

It might be that there is a meeting to go to, or that you can just send some information instead. There is more advice about meetings in the sections below.        

Sharing my own views

Sharing in person

If you will be attending a meeting yourself to share and talk about your views, then it may help to think about the following:        

  • Have you prepared what you want to share?
  • Can you send it ahead of the meeting so that others can look at it?
  • Would you prefer to say what you think on the day in the meeting?
  • Is someone going to be there who knows you well?, who can help you to share your views?
  • If you don't want to attend the whole meeting, can you go to part of it or join it via telephone or internet(e.g. Zoom or Skype)

There is more information and advice about preparing for and attending meetings in the section below.        

Sharing by sending the information

If there is no meeting to attend, or you have decided that you do not want to go, you can still make sure that your views, thoughts and feelings are considered.         

It might be helpful to think about the following:        

  • Have you captured everything you want them to know?
  • Does it need anything sending with it to help them understand?
  • Will someone contact you to talk to you about what is sent?
  • How will you know that your views have been listened to?
  • Do you have any questions that you would like answering?

Someone sharing my views for me

If you have decided that you would prefer someone else to share your views, wishes and feelings for you, then it is important you feel that they know what you want.        

You could work with them on capturing your views, or could talk it through with them if you have chosen to do this step on your own.        

It might be that you will attend a meeting, but do not want to speak directly. Or that you do not want to go and someone is going to go for you.        

It might be helpful to think about:        

  • Do this person know you well?>
  • Do you think that they understand what is important to you?
  • How will they let you know what happened?
  • If more information is needed, will they be able to contact you to ask, or could they answer on your behalf?
  • Do you need them to take any notes for you?
  • Could the meeting be recorded for you?
  • Could you go to part of the meeting, or join it via telephone or internet(e.g. Zoom or Skype)

Meeting advice

Sometimes you might want or need to go a meeting. Below is some practical advice that we hope you find helpful.

Before the meeting

Attending a meeting can be a good way to talk about an issue, your views and to make a plan.      

Before a meeting it might be helpful to think about:        

  • Have you had copies of all the information that will be looked at in the meeting?
  • Preparing some notes or a list of things that you want to say or ask.
  • Do you need anything for the meeting, such as visual aids or an accessible venue? Let the meeting lead know as soon in advance as you can.
  • Do you know who will be there, would you like them to wear name labels or have pictures of them up on a board in the room?
  • Will you take some notes in the meeting, or ask someone to take them for you? How would you like these notes to be taken?
  • Have there been meetings before this one? Do you have notes about what was agreed and should have been done?
  • Is there anything you need to take with you to feel comfortable?
  • That you can ask for a break if you need one. Do you feel comfortable asking or do you want a signal to let the meeting lead know?

You might find this leaflet on preparing for an annual review helpful. It was made by Amy, who is a member of the Flare advisory group.         

At the meeting

At the meeting, there should be someone who is in charge or leading it. This person should explain who is at the meeting and the order of what will happen.        

You can stop the meeting at any time if you need to or if you don’t understand something. You could have an agreed signal if you don’t want to speak up.        

It might be helpful to think about:        

  • Do you know who everyone is and why they are there?
  • Is there anything you need the other people in the meeting to know, such as any signs or signals you might use?
  • Do you know what is going to be talked about?
  • Do you know when it will be your turn to speak?
  • Do you need a drink?
  • Do you need a break?
  • Who is taking notes and how will you get a copy?
  • Do you have all the paperwork you need?
  • Can you follow the meeting?, have they included things you need such as visual aids etc?
  • Is there a clear action plan telling you who will be doing anything, how they will do it and by when?
  • What will happen next after this meeting?
  • Will there be any more meetings?

After the meeting

After the meeting is important that you feel clear on what was agreed and what will happen next.        

It might be helpful to think about:        

  • Did you feel listened to?
  • Do you have any unanswered questions?
  • Did you say everything that you wanted to?
  • Will there be another meeting or a review?
  • Will you get copies of any notes or minutes that were taken?
  • Do you want or need to speak to anyone about this meeting
  • Are you clear on what will happen next?

If you are unhappy with what happens at a meeting, you can find more information about this on the Speak Up website. or by watching this video made by the NHS.        

More information, advice and support (IAS)

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You can also find more resources on our useful SEND links and tools page.