As an Advanced Practice Nurse specializing in Developmental Pediatrics, I recently attended the National Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics conference in Cleveland. It was an amazing experience to be among the experts in the field and learn about the latest research and clinical guidelines for many of the developmental diagnoses I see on a daily basis.

One of the keynote speakers, Dr. Peter Rosenbaum, delivered an inspirational address on the current state of the profession. He discussed his new vision for childhood disability that is based off of the ICF framework for disability. He coined this vision “the six F-words of disability,” which include: function, family, fitness, fun, friends, and future. Function refers to what the child likes to do or what his or her jobs include. Family refers to the essential environment for the child. Fitness refers to how the child remains physically active. Fun refers to the particular activities that the child enjoys participating in. Friends refer to the friendships and relationships that the child establishes with his or her peers. Future refers to the parent and child’s expectations and visions for his or her future.

This framework is a refreshing perspective when thinking holistically about a child with a disability. After hearing this lecture, I have begun to introduce the F-word concept to families in my clinical practice. This framework allows for a shift in focus on the child’s strengths, hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. For a child with a complex medical history, such as cerebral palsy, the non-medical needs can sometimes fall to the wayside. I recommend families use this framework and adapt it to their child. Perhaps when the child is starting a new school year or summer camp, the parent can share this information so that the new teacher or therapist can get to know their child and his or her personality. I encourage my fellow LEND trainees to learn more about the F-word concept and adapt it to their work or personal experience with family members.