Developmental Assessments

October 28, 2020
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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When it comes to taking care of your child, you want to make sure you do as much as possible — provide them with a good quality of life, safeguard their health, and show them a lot of love. And, while some things are popularly known as things you do as a regular part of their development, others can be a little bit more confusing. Such can be the case with developmental assessments. What, exactly, are they? At what ages should your child get them? And what can you expect from these types of examinations?

What is a developmental assessment?

A developmental assessment is a screening that’s designed to monitor your child’s development. You first complete a questionnaire about your child. The medical provider will then measure your child’s development by assessing their growth, movements, motor skills, behavior, speech, and emotions.

If the pediatrician notices any developmental delays or motor disorders, they then refer the child to a specialist for additional testing. If there’s an official diagnosis, the specialist will then design an appropriate course of treatment.

When should a child undergo developmental assessments?

Developmental assessments could be recommended by your child’s pediatrician if you or the doctor have noticed any cause for concern. However, they can also be conducted as part of a well-child visit — even if your child seems healthy. That said, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends regular developmental screenings at certain intervals:

  • 9 months
  • 18 months
  • 30 months

In addition, the AAP recommends autism screenings at 18 and 24 months of age. These assessments are recommended because one in four children (from newborns to five years of age) are at risk of developing a developmental delay. Using standardized methods can provide early intervention — which is crucial to ensuring a child’s well-being.

It’s also recommended that autism assessments occur in more than one session. That’s because how a child behaves and interacts with the environment around them will vary depending on their familiarity with the doctor, the office, their comfort level, and their mood on any given day.

What can you expect from a developmental assessment?

When you take your child to their developmental assessments, a doctor or nurse will meet with you to ask questions about your child’s medical history, how they have grown and developed, and what you have observed while they play and interact with others. The medical professional will then examine your child to see whether they are reaching milestones other children in that age group have reached.

In addition, the doctor will test the child’s cognitive abilities, sensory processing, and communication skills. This includes:

  • Whether the child is growing the way they should
  • Whether your child’s muscles are strong enough to do age-appropriate activities
  • Whether the child can roll over, sit without support, or walk, depending on age
  • Observing the child’s social interactions
  • Observing the child play with toys, puzzles, and blocks
  • Asking your child to make drawings and/or answer questions

The medical provider will then complete a report summarizing the assessment, including information about findings and recommendations. This report can be sent to specialists if further testing or monitoring is needed.

How to Care for a Child with Developmental Delays

Developmental delays could happen in just one area of your child’s life, or in multiple of them — including cognitive, motor skills, speech, behavioral, emotional, or social. Some of the most common ones include:

If a specialist confirms a diagnosis of a developmental delay, they will design a treatment plan specifically tailored to your child’s needs. Common forms of treatment include:

1. Professional Therapy

This may include visits to physical, occupational, and/or speech therapists or social skills training. You will go to such visits with your child so that you can learn which exercises to incorporate into your home life.

2. Enlisting the School’s Help

The phrase it takes a village exists for a reason. You can talk with the school administrators and submit your child’s assessment report. This may allow your child to bring a caregiver to class with them, and assist therapy and counseling sessions where available.

3. Using Assistive Technology

Depending on your child’s delay, different types of technology may assist them in their activities of daily living — such as alternative keyboards, speech recognition programs, speech synthesizers, and instructional software.

Children with developmental delays can still lead full, healthy lives. The earlier the disability is diagnosed, the more resources and tools will be available for the child to learn skills and communicate better.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why our team of professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help.

Our home health care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you or a loved one are considering Pediatric Home Health Care Services, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.