Developmental assessments provide a broader understanding of a child’s delays or difficulties within the context of the child’s development. These are assessments that span several different domains of functioning, including: communication skills, problem-solving, play skills, social skills, motor skills and daily living skills.

A child’s social-emotional functioning and family life are also considered in order to fully understand a child’s functioning. For example, we assess the emotional functioning of a child to chart functional emotional milestones that define healthy emotional functioning and provide purpose to many mental processes. Early assessment and intervention can minimize a child’s ongoing functional impairments and help to avoid missed opportunities for mastering critical functioning skills. These milestones include:

  • Exhibiting growing self-regulation and interest in the world (0-3 months)
  • Engaging in relationships (4-5 months)
  • Using emotions in an interactive purposeful manner (6-9 months)
  • Using a series of interactive emotional signals or gestures to communicate (10-14 months)
  • Using a series of interactive emotional signals or gestures to solve problems (15-18 months)
  • Using symbols or ideas to convey intentions or feelings (19-24 months)
  • Using symbols or ideas to express more than basic needs (25-30 months)
  • Creating logical bridges between emotions and ideas (31-42 months)

As part of a developmental assessment, your child will be seen for some play-based or structured assessment activities. Also, parents and teachers/caregivers are usually asked to complete ratings scales to gain valuable information about what your child can do and how he/she copes in home, community and social settings. Because your clinician wants to make sure they have a thorough picture of your child, observation at daycare and/or consultation with other professionals who may already work with the child may also be recommended.

Once the process is complete, the results of the assessment provide parents with an overview of where the child’s skill development stands in many areas, compared to other children his/her age. From this assessment, recommendations for intervention, for programming, and for parenting strategies are provided to emphasize a child’s areas of strength, while at the same time supporting or targeting their areas of difficulty. Sometimes—if there are  clear signs of impairment—a developmental assessment may lead to a diagnosis of a developmental disorder, an intellectual disorder or a communication disorder.

Other Types of Pediatric Assessments