Developmental Assessment for Children- Why it is important!
In the first year of life, routine visits are scheduled during the first and second weeks of life, and at 2nd, 4th, 6th, 9th & 12th months. The infant’s first visit to the doctors may be as early as 2-3 days after birth. Healthy babies are discharged from the nursery after 24 to 48 hours. This is a critical time for the establishment of breastfeeding and assessment of problems such as jaundice. During your child’s screening, the healthcare provider may ask you questions, interact with your child, and/or conduct tests to find out more about what your child can and cannot do. If your child has a medical condition, was born premature, presents with delayed developmental milestones, or was exposed to an environmental toxin like lead, the doctor might conduct developmental screenings more often.
What does development assessment entail?
The developmental examinations are used to describe the current developmental functioning of infants and to assist in diagnosis and treatment planning for infants with developmental delays or disabilities. The test is intended to measure a child’s level of development in three domains: cognitive, motor and behavioural.
Cognition can be defined as a process by which knowledge is gained from perceptions or ideas. Cognitive development refers to how an infant perceives, thinks, and gains an understanding of the world. Piaget’s theory is focused on the processes of cognitive development and states that the child is born with an innate curiosity to interact with and understand his/her environment. It is through interaction with others that the child actively constructs his/her development.
During the first two years of life, infants grow and develop in many ways. Two types of motor developments occur at this stage. Cephalocaudal development occurs in the following sequence: Head before arms and trunk and arms and trunk before legs. Proximodistal development occurs as follows: Head, trunk, arms before hands and fingers. Motor development has a powerful impact on the social relationships, thinking, and language of infants. Large motor development allows infants to have more control over actions that help them move around their environment, while small motor development gives them more control over movements that allow them to reach, grasp, and handle objects. The sequence of these developments is similar in most children; however, the rate of growth and development varies by individual.
Temperament is the set of genetically determined traits that organize the child’s approach to the world. They are instrumental in the development of the child’s distinct personality and behaviour. This behavioural style appears very early in life—within the first two months after birth—and undergoes development, centred on features such as intensity, activity, persistence, or emotionality.
Besides measuring normal cognitive, motor, and behavioural developmental levels, developmental assessment is also used in cases where there are significant delays in acquiring certain skills or performing key activities in order to qualify a child for special interventions. Specifically, they are also used to do the following:
• Identify children who are developmentally delayed
• Chart a child’s progress after the initiation of an intervention therapy
• Teach parents about their infant’s development
• Conduct research in developmental psychology
Developmental assessment can be carried out by paediatric doctors/Physio/OT/Speech therapists or psychologists.