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Models of Disability, Quality of Life, and Individualized Supports: Implications for Professional Practice in Intellectual Disability


Wil H. E. Buntinx, PhD, Associate Research Professor, Department of Health Organization, Policy and Economics & Governor Kremers Center, Maastricht University, P.O.B. 616, NL 6200 MD Maastricht, the Netherlands. Tel: +31 6 2079 8066; E-mail:


In the past decade, new models have emerged with respect to the constructs of (intellectual) disability, quality of life, and supports. These models have implications both for understanding the underlying phenomena as for validating professional practices. The authors describe the context and key components of models of human functioning (American Association on Intellectual and Development Disabilities; International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health), supports, and quality of life, and demonstrate how these are related by synthesizing their similarities and differences. From this they discuss the implications for professional clinical and service good practice. It is argued that these models offer relevant frames of reference for guiding and integrating activities of medical, behavioral, and social disciplines in the field of intellectual disability services. It is also argued that knowledge of these models and their relationships facilitates communication among professionals and between professionals and policy makers.