Models of disability and the categorisation of children with severe and profound learning difficulties: Informing educational approaches based on an understanding of individual needs

Kirstie Rees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Aim: This paper will explore the influence of dominant models of disability on the categorisation of children with severe and profound learning disabilities. Rationale: Whilst the medical model continues to characterise views of disability within medical settings, the adoption of the social model in education has led to a reluctance to use labelling (Norwich, 2002) and to the application of pedagogy which adheres to common 'age and stage' conceptions of progress (Lawson et al., 2005). Findings: The reticence to refer to a child's diagnosis exacerbates a lack of understanding of the development of this group of learners and prevents the level of assessment necessary to inform robust individual education plans and child-centred teaching approaches. More recent approaches to curricular practice (Lacey, 2011) aim to achieve a balance between understanding a child's individual needs and providing a range of learning experiences. This is consistent with the recently proposed 'cultural-historical model of disability' (Bottcher & Dammeyer, 2016) which attempts to realign the social and medical model of disability by reducing 'developmental incongruence' - a mismatch between a child's impairment and proposed learning activities. Conclusions: The paper outlines how the application of this model may be facilitated by educational psychologists to ensure that information about a child's 'label' is used positively, as a means of providing further information about a child's cognitive profile and increasing the likelihood that learning activities will optimise outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-39
Number of pages10
JournalEducational and Child Psychology
Volume34
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

Keywords

  • Cultural-historical model
  • Curriculum
  • Medical model of disability
  • Severe and profound learning difficulties
  • Social model of disability

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