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Children's Medical Services - Special services for children with special needs
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Module Two: Lesson Two

Assessing Function and Needs

In the previous video segment, Robin McWillam makes the point that evaluation for the purpose of determining eligibility is necessary, but it does not provide information for providing functional interventions. In this next video segment, Dr. McWilliam provides a specific example of why it is important to assess function and needs in families and move from the development of vague outcomes to identifying functional outcomes. This will result in meaningful interventions within the context of the child and family functioning within everyday routines.

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Text version

Let me give you a bit more background about why it's important to be paying attention to assessing needs in families. I, and other people, have done research on the quality of IFSPs, and we find that nationally, most of them are vague and child focused. So, we quite often come across outcomes that say things like "The child will communicate his needs and wants". OK, when, where, why, how, you know, we don't know any of that when we see an outcome like that. We really have no idea.

So, what happens then is it can give license to people to go and do their own brand of intervention, without any relevance to where it is that child really needs that. And as it turns out, when we interview service providers and we say, "OK, it says right here, 'communicate his needs and wants'. Where is this a problem in the day to day functioning of the child and family?", and they can't tell you. They say "Well, he can't articulate single words, clearly." OK. Thank you for that information. And, where is it that the child needs to be able to use a single word clearly, because that's the time when we want to do the interventions, is at the time when he needs it. That's the best time to be intervening, and people can't identify that. So, we need to improve the outcomes is one issue I'm making here.


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