F-Words in Childhood Disability


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What are the F-words for Child Development?

In 2011, Dr. Rosenbaum and Dr. Gorter published a paper titled: "The 'F-words' in Childhood Disability: I swear this is how we should think!" Inspired by over two decades of CanChild research and continual discussion amongst members of the CanChild family, the paper features six F-words that the authors state should be the focus in childhood disability - Function, Family, Fitness, Fun, Friends, and Future.

The F-words focus on six key areas of child development. Recognizing that no one factor is more important than another, we hope to encourage people in the childhood disability field to adopt this way of thinking and apply these concepts in their work with children with disabilities and their families.


Function: refers to what people do - how things are done is not what is important; synonyms include ‘role’, ‘job’, ‘task’, etc. (for children, ‘play’ is their ‘work’)


Family: represents the essential ‘environment’ of all children


Fitness: refers to how children stay physically active, including exercise and other recreational opportunities


Fun: includes particular activities children are involved in or enjoy participating in


Friends: refers to the friendships established with peers; social development is an essential aspect of personhood


Future: is what child development is all about; it refers to parents and children's expectations and dreams for their future 

The foundation of the F-words...

The F-words build upon the World Health Organizations (WHO's) International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) framework. The ICF framework shows how body structure and function, activity, participation, environmental factors and personal factors are interrelated and equally influence our health and functioning. This holistic approach encourages us to focus on factors that are important to all children's development - their participation, activities, and environment. Please click here to learn more about the ICF.

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