What is a Child Development Assessment, and Does my Child Need one?
Every child reaches developmental milestones at different times; some begin walking and talking before they’ve even reached their first birthday, while others take a little longer to figure things out. This is completely normal, and there’s no need to be worried if your child isn’t the first to reach a specific goal.
However, as a parent, it’s natural to feel a little anxious about your child’s growth and development, particularly if they appear to be struggling to keep up with their friends. A child development assessment is designed to not only help parents to better understand why their child may be taking longer to reach important milestones than their peers, but also to ensure that appropriate support is in place and suitable treatment options are identified should a child be diagnosed with a common developmental disorder such as autism.
Does My Child Need a Development Assessment?
Child development is a very challenging area of paediatrics because, in most instances, there is no definitive medical test that provides a clear ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ for developmental disorders.
With autism especially presenting in a huge number of different ways – some children may simply appear to be shy and quiet while others can become physically agitated in certain situations – it can often be difficult for parents to know whether their child’s behaviour is a normal part of growing up, or indicative of something that requires further attention. A development assessment can help put your mind at ease.
Some signs that many parents worry about include:
- Unusual body movements
- Unusual use of limbs
- Challenging behaviour
- Short attention span
- Difficulties communicating
- Problems with hearing
- Problems with vision
- History of seizures
However, it’s important to understand that these signs do not always mean that your child has a developmental disorder. That’s why a child development assessment is recommended. The purpose of a child development assessment is to identify suitable interventions and therapy for autistic children, and children with other developmental disorders, to ensure that families have access to the best treatment options and management solutions, helping children to live happy and healthy lives.
What Does a Child Development Assessment Look Like?
This is a very difficult question to answer, as no two assessments will ever be the same. A child behaviour specialist will utilise a range of developmental assessment techniques depending on your own child, and your own concerns. Depending on your child, the specialist may look closely at cognitive ability, motor skills, communication, sensory processing, and behavioural functioning, amongst other aspects, and these assessments are always carried out in terms of the cultural context of each and every family.
Some children may be provided with puzzles to tackle, or asked to perform some basic tasks. Other children may simply be asked to play – often with a parent or guardian – so that everyday behaviours and social interactions can be observed. Everything the specialist does will be used to create three things:
1. A clear and objective description of your child’s abilities, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities
2. An overview of potential developmental disorders, and whether there is a need for further evaluation
3. A plan for care and support, such as autism treatment, physiotherapy, or speech and language services
When is the Best Time to Book an Assessment?
Parents who are concerned about development are often advised to get in touch with a child development specialist when their child is between the ages of 2 and 5. It is unusual for autism and other developmental disorders to be diagnosed before the age of 2 as it is much more challenging to assess behaviour in very young children. However, early intervention is the key to creating an effective support plan, so it’s important for parents to seek necessary services during the primary developmental stage, helping to create happy, healthy futures. Contact us today to find out more or call us today on 0203 282 0566