Monday, 21 June 2010

It's that ICF again

Big advance or fundamental disagreement

We shall be hearing more about the ICF, the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health. It might be advisable to get up to speed on this one, before you miss something important or, worse, put your money on the wrong horse.

A current enthusiast for ICF is László Szögeczki, who over the last few days has devoted three consecutive postings on his blog to this topic:

A priori

ICF has been developed to meet a perceived need in health-care systems for a classificatory system that extends to and incorporates disability. Those who are not health personnel might fail to perceive a need for a classificatory system in the pedagogy and upbringing, and intervention into the family and social life of children and adults.

Some, though, apparently do and it would be interesting to hear their a priori reasons for this, since these remain to be explicitly communicated with respect to Conductive Education. It would then be very interesting to follow the next logical step, empirical validation of using the ICF within this role (presumably, given the nature and goals of the conductive process, quite a complex psychometric task).

Along the way there may be interesting questions to discuss.

A doctoral study

On the third of the postings linked to above, László has started to do something rather extraordinary – or something that, becoming commonplace elsewhere, is outside the limited experience of Conductive Education.  He has commenced the serial publication of a extracts from a doctoral study – in English too.

Zsuzsanna Olexa Józsefné is a conductor at the Pető Institute in Budapest, currently involved in a doctoral study at the Department of Pedagogy of the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest,with the following title:

Development of a common language to serve as a scientific basis in conductive education, with the help of the International Classification of Functioning (ICF) and its Children and Youth Version (ICF-CY)

Until László provides further details, it is not possible to determine the status of material of hers that he has already published – for example, what sort of doctoral study this is, and whether it has been completed. That said, even the first episode of László's serialisation offers some intriguing hints of treats to come. Thus, Zsuzsanna writes –

Conductive Education has remained largely untouched by the International Classification of Functioning, concerning the adult population. Internally at least, Conductive Education has not needed this, as it has already implicitly moved on to the next stage, which involves mechanisms for change not just classification. But International Classification of Functioning Children and Youth Version changes in the developing child’s functioning and performance and the role of enviromental factors are taken into account; applicable in varying health conditions.

It will be very interesting indeed to see the evidence that she advances for both parts of this statement of the differential relevance of the ICF to conductive practice with adults and with children.

Another, earlier doctoral experience

Rony Schenker has already commented, on the third of László's postings –

I would be grateful to receive Zsuzsanna;s work for reading. I deal with the ICF since it was first published back in 2001, and it served as a frame of reference of my PhD work as an OT.

Yet I am skeptic regarding its compatibility to CE. It is a health model and not a pedagogical one
I always tell my students, when introducing the ICF model, that if this model existed back in the late 80s, the world would understand more easily what CE has to offer. YET, this does not mean that it is the right choice to refer to it as a scientific basis for measuring outcomes in CE. It is, however, useful for conductivists because of it complexity.

I'm open and ready to change my mind if convinced otherwise

So go on, convince her. It will be interesting to watch the battle lines drawn up.

Fault lines

A quick scan of what László, Zsuzsanna and Rony have already published reveals some of the fault lines within Conductive Education that the field has been happy to leave quiet and unexpressed. László has now well and truly let the cat out of the bag! Of course the whole business might sink back into obscurity. And it might not.

1 comment:

  1. B.C. uses a tool called the "GMFM" Gross motor functioning measurement. I've seen it, but one's never been done on my boy; primarily because: well let me say that this is only my theory. I think this useful gauge hasn't been performed on my son because much of the "therapy" around here seems to be focussed on the equipment, machines, and "stuff" that's 'prescribed' into his life: walkers, wheelchairs, braces, you know - gear. They've certainly measured this stuff to no end, but measure the child's range? Whatever for?
    CE poses a unique problem because it presupposes the person's mind and body as essential and useful "gear." CE also problematically brings with it then the expectation, the sheer possibility, the promise of pursuing what the child can DO with that equipment. That entails a load of work, assumed curiosity, and underneath that love; I suppose.
    Medical or otherwise, these measurements might serve as a powerful wedge, no, not wedge; a powerful bulldozer to open a place for CE. If used at the proper time, as a "before and after" guide, they could only make it less difficult for some to continue their claptrap with phrases like, "CE doesn't work," etc.
    I'm going to suggest to our new conductor in B.C. that s/he be trained in doing the GMFM and use it as a 'diagnostic/educational' benchmark. Could prove to be very useful; instead of the parents' being the only ones 'crying in the wilderness.'