Social, Physical, Emotional, and Cultural Profile...Just a Dialog

Author: 
Linda Messbauer, M.A., OTR/L

Written May 12th, 2005

The development of the SPEC Profile grew out of the observable need to improve the awareness and interaction of all types and levels of staff working with any kind of person with a disability or challenge. It also, grew out of a need to apply my “therapy” as customized to the uniqueness of the individual as possible. As a Clinician, I am trying to pair sound clinical reasoning and judgment with a possible treatment technique or modality based on probable outcomes and an evaluation process. I also want to adapt or setup the environment to build in as much success into the process of helping the individual as possible. I found I needed more information then was available through my evaluation tools and often unattainable at a Team meeting.

The most thorough information about an individual is procured at the time of intake at a school, hospital, clinic, nursing home etc. Often this information contains only that which is pertinent to the present situation for the individual. For example medical facts about the diagnosis or condition that is effecting the individual for their current placement or the educational history or testing for a school placement. Very often this information package does not contain incidental information about the individual. By incidental I mean places, events, people, history (not necessarily medical), things and experiences that are or were important to that individual. “The Stuff That Makes Life Meaningful”.
This incidental information may seem relatively unimportant to us but, holds valuable emotional and symbolic meaning for the individual. Our experiences are assigned relevance in our brain and laid down as emotional memories as we journey through life and is perceived by us as uniquely ours. Depending on the circumstances of the experience the memory may be assigned a value of positive, negative or neutral. Yet, this very tangible and significant information is often overlooked as a possible clinical tool to help the individual especially under the medical model.

Another problem is the information obtained at the time of intake may be shared only with the Professional or close immediate Team working with the individual. But, most often the Paraprofessional staff spends more time around the individual or assisting the individual then the Professional staff spends more time around the individual or assisting the individual then the Professional staff. Restrictions on the accessibility of information have grown considerably in the last few years, especially since the HIPAA regulations have come into effect. ln my opinion there is much confusion around these regulations. However, this is not a privacy debate and I am not talking about medical or personal identifying information. The information for which we are looking for is to provide choice, respect, dignity and pleasure to the individual in question. It is information required to help the person maintain or have a meaningful “Quality of Life.” We are asking what has or