David Brown Listen to David Brown’s description of a personal passport.


I know you mentioned before the notion of a “personal passport.” Share just a little bit about that because I think that is such a very specific thing that families can do and educators can do as well.

Yes, it’s an idea that we started to develop in my service in London in the mid-90s on. And I know people all around the world have come up with a similar kind of approach. It’s doing what I just said. It’s helping a family realize and recognize and actually verbalize their understanding of the child. Helping them answer questions like, “What does this child like? How do you know they like it? What does this child want? How do you know they want it? What do they not want? How do you know they don’t want it?”

And then putting that down in written form and putting it in a personal passport means personalizing it with the child’s name, with lots of photographs, and maybe writing in the first person so that the book will say something like, “Hi, my name is Mandy. I don’t see too well. I can hear you, but I don’t speak. But I am able to respond in all sorts of ways. This book will help you get to know me.” And then you actually write down what the child likes, how you can tell, what they dislike, how you can tell, and you start that process so that in theory, any stranger who comes into the child’s life who has access to the personal passport can start off on the right foot.

Also, it helps those new people think this is a child who is a human being with likes and dislikes and memory and a history of expressing themselves in ways that can be understood by the people around them—the first stage of any kind of process of self-determination.