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The use of the international classification of functioning, disability and health in an interactive perspective: The assessment and intervention of students' additional support needs in Portugal


Silveira-Maia, Mónica; Lopes-dos-Santos, Pedro; Sanches-Ferreira, Manuela [u. a.]


k. A.


Disability and Rehabilitation, 2019, Volume 41 (Issue 25), London: Informa Healthcare, ISSN: 0963-8288 (Print); 1464-5165 (Online)





Evaluating the influence of person-environment interactions on students' performance is a fundamental requirement for planning individualized educational interventions. Such understanding grounded the use of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health as a reference framework to support special needs assessment in the Portuguese educational system. This study sought to investigate the extent to which special education teams reported relationships between Body Functions, Activities and Participation, and Environmental Factors in Individualized Education Programmes for students with additional support needs and what types of relations were mostly described.

Materials and Methods:

Using content analysis, 176 Individualized Education Programmes were examined. A coding scheme based on the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health was developed to categorize and quantify code-relations.

Results and Conclusions:

Code-relations consisted in 6.1 % out of the total of meaning units found in textual segments concerning assessment and intervention processes. Code-relations were chiefly focused on mental functions, learning and applying knowledge, and products and technology. Intervention plans were predominantly presented as separate lists of goals and strategies, focusing Activities and Participation (67.8 %), Body Functions (16.1 %) and Environmental Factors (16.2 %). Within the reduced amount of contents in which there was a match between goals and strategies, only 8.2 % were directly connected with assessment data. Recommendations are made for the implementation of an interactive approach when using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health in educational contexts.

Implications for rehabilitation:

The adoption of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health in the educational context goes beyond the use of a universal language including, as well, the potential to foster a multidimensional and comprehensive approach to students' needs. Professionals' approach in special needs assessment is often partial and segmented, suggesting a narrow understanding of the relationships between body functions, activities and participation, and environmental factors. Our findings support the need for an expanded focus on person-environment interactions, considering students' participation in different domains of life - besides learning - as well as the impact of environmental barriers over students' participation; Training programmes centred on a biopsychosocial understanding of human functioning, the establishment of a transdisciplinary collaborative culture and the use of dynamic assessment tools may equip professionals with appropriate conditions to use the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health within an interactive perspective.

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Disability and Rehabilitation

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Informationsstand: 08.01.2020

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