Academics supporting children with special needs and disabilities

A new 385,000 Euro project to help nurseries, schools and health workers better classify and understand children’s special educational needs and disabilities has been launched by academics, who say it is expected to provide greater detail and improve inter-agency co-ordination.

Posted: 16 November 2015

image for news story Academics supporting children with special needs and disabilities
Dr Olympia Palikara and Dr Susana Castro from Roehampton's School of Education.
Dr Olympia Palikara and Dr Susana Castro from the School of Education are working with colleagues in five other countries to develop a secure online tool, in a European Commission-funded programme.

The finished tool will provide a ‘menu’ of specific and detailed behavioural and environmental characteristics to be used in describing a child’s profile, based on the World Health Organisation’s ICF classification.

Dr Palikara said: “Professionals working with children on a day to day basis require a common language to describe and meet their needs across education, health and social care. There is a well-documented need for professionals to work more closely together, but until we launched this project, there were limited specific resources available to describe a child’s individual functioning profile within a team of professionals.”

The ICF MedUse tool and website will be accessible to nursery and school staff and other agencies in social and health care, rather than just being understandable by psychologists. That means all bodies concerned with children’s service provision can ‘speak a common language’ in measuring and classifying needs.

Dr Castro said: “The new tool will make the ICF classification easy to navigate by allowing professionals to input a set of behavioural and environmental aspects that describe the functioning profile of the child, individually.”

The ICF classification system which the new tool will be based on has existed for a number of years and describes in detail aspects of functioning and behaviour that may constitute either impairments or particular abilities of individual children. It also provides a systematic classification of environmental aspects that can facilitate or restrict the overall participation of children, regardless of their diagnosis.

Read about School of Education degree courses at Roehampton, including our postgraduate qualification in special educational needs.

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