Abstract

An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is a multi-disciplinary, team-developed plan that is required for a child receiving special education services. IEPs are tools for setting objectives that are responsive to students with special needs. The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) is a hierarchical classification for human functioning and disability developed by the World Health Organization (WHO). The ICF classification can be used as a structural and conceptual instrument in goal setting. In this study the educational IEP objectives of five Finnish students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are examined within the ICF framework. The focus is in the goals concerning the development of communication and social behavior because the main criteria for ASD comprise disabilities and challenges in communication and social behavior. The aim of the study was to assess the usefulness of the ICF coding system with regard to educational goals and objectives of students with ASD. The core content of the goals was extracted to linking units, which were coded into categories of the ICF classification. The results revealed that only few of possible ICF categories were used, the goals linked to communication technologies were heavily stressed, and the relation between the goals and general curriculum was vague. As a conclusion it is suggested that teachers and multi-disciplinary teams might benefit from standardizing their mutual conceptual framework with the help of the ICF when setting goals or objectives for students with disabilities.

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