- What arguments do the authors use to justify the use of capability impact as an endpoint in this study?
The arguments of the authors are:
- The capability approach is similar to the successful social model advanced by Gross (2002), as both of them acknowledge the diversity between children and the importance of social context when it comes to education.
- It shifts the focus on impairments / disabilities to diversity and individual growth (Terzi, 2005). Impairments and disabilities should be considered as an aspect of human diversity, and education should be inclusive. The capability approach offers a theoretical framework that is able to take into account these individual differences.
- It fits a multidimensional approach to behaviour modification (of which mimetics is an example).
2. What are the informational requirements of this choice?
If you choose to assess the effects of interventions in terms of capabilities, you should collect evidence that shows the impact on capabilities. Capabilities refers to the capability approach, a theoretical framework that entails two normative claims: the freedom to achieve well-being is of primary moral importance, and this freedom is to be understood in terms of people’s capabilities: their real opportunities to do and be what they have reason to value (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/capability-approach/). Elements of the framework are: functionings (the various states of human beings and the activities that a person can undertake), conversion factors (personal, social and environmental characteristics), resources (money, food, goods,.). If you decide to use capability impact as an endpoint, information on these elements should be collected. Because an important tenet of the capability approach is that it takes the individual goals and values as its central focus, it is important to explore the needs of a particular individual when assessing the impact of an intervention on a person. With respect to the impact of an educational program on children with autism, the needs of every individual child should be identified and assessed.
3. How would you rate the validity of this study?
The validity is limited, because you cannot exclude confounding factors: the assessment of the effect has been done by the teachers that were actively involved in the program, the behaviour of teachers towards children may have changed and contributed to the effect, and the paper should have provided more methodological and analytical information.
The relevance of the study is also debatable, because it is unclear whether they have really measured the effects of the intervention in terms of capabilities (which is their stated goal).