The Key Dimensions of the Pennsylvania Individual Support Plan

The Key Dimensions of the Pennsylvania Individual Support Plan

An Individual Support Plan (ISP) lays the groundwork for caring for an individual with a developmental disability, such as autism. It is completed during the intake process to provide mental health services providers with a set of best practices centered around an individual’s (Person-Centered Planning) level of ability or functionality, as well as personal preferences, wants, and needs. The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Individual Support Plan form clocks in at 34 pages. Let’s break down each of the main sections and what they are trying to accomplish.


Individual Preferences

This section of the ISP determines what the individual likes and dislikes, what they prefer or prefer not to do, what’s important to them (and how much), and what makes sense and what doesn’t. These preferences are used to create a positive environment for the individual, as well as guide his or her daily schedule.



In this portion of the ISP, the support coordinator will gather a comprehensive medical profile of the individual, including any medications, how much and how often they are taken, a list of allergies, treatment and vaccination history, developmental and behavioral background information, and assess limitations to physical abilities. 



Health and Safety

The Health and Safety segment of the ISP determines how much supervision and support an individual needs in order to ensure the safety of him or herself and others. First, the supports coordinator will try to ascertain the scenarios or situations where the individual has shown indiscretion in the past —including fire, traffic, or water hazards, misuse of appliances or disregard of labels, awareness of identity, and inability to identify strangers. Strong reactions to sensory stimuli and dietary considerations are noted here as well (such as if the individual has trouble chewing or eating), in addition to mobility issues or difficulty using the bathroom. 


A hard copy of an individual’s behavioral support plan (taking into account social, emotional, and environmental considerations) and crisis support plan (in reaction to a crisis situation that the individual might be at risk for) will be included with the ISP. A designated health support person (such as a parent or guardian) will help mental health services providers guide decisionmaking in regard to healthcare and advance directive (end-of-life care). If any recommendations have been made for improving or working on a particular condition, by a healthcare professional or the individual him or herself, that should be mentioned here as well. 


Functional Information

The Functional Information section of the ISP summarizes what an individual can do on their own and the areas in which they may require assistance. Areas of functioning include physical, adaptive (hygiene/maintaining order in the environment), learning and cognitive ability, the individual’s preferred method of communication (and the extent to which he or she can), and his or her grasp on emotions. 


The support coordinator will also collect information on the individual’s educational, vocational, and volunteering pursuits thus far and what they hope to accomplish in the future. From there, more distinct goals can become defined. 



Financial Info

To what degree is the individual responsible for his or her own finances, and upon what financial resources is he or she reliant? 


Outcome Summary and Outcome Actions

An Individual Support Plan is dynamic, adapting to changing needs and aiming for growth and progress. The Outcome Summary reviews what worked best (and what didn’t) over a defined period (usually a year), while the Outcome Actions suggests tweaks and improvements. 


Erie County Care Management is committed to helping individuals of any age with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other intellectual or developmental health challenges live full, quality lives. During the intake process, we will craft an Individual Support Plan and work diligently to achieve every goal we set forth. To learn more, contact ECCM today.