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What’s a developmental assessment test?
The term “developmental assessment” is used to categorize procedures carried out by a team of specialists to determine a child’s approximate level of maturity, to identify problems in one or more areas of development, and to propose remedial procedures if needed. A multi-disciplinary team usually handles a young child’s assessment. It may consist of a pediatrician, a psychologist, a speech and language specialist and maybe a social worker. In order to prevent fatigue and minimize any anxiety associated with the procedure, the child’s assessment may be spread out over two or more sessions.

Most medical schools have facilities for these assessments. At the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, with which I am affiliated, we have an excellent one simply called The Developmental Center. In addition, one can find excellent facilities affiliated with educational establishments or staffed by professionals from the different disciplines necessary for this kind of work. If you choose one that is not associated with a medical facility, you will probably be given a form to take to your pediatrician or family physician to be filled out and sent to the personnel carrying out the rest of the assessment. The reason for this is that one wants the assessment to be broad and inclusive and not limited to only one aspect of development.

There is no special preparation needed for such a procedure. In all honesty you can tell your child that he/she will be going to see some people who will play some games with him/her and ask some questions. Well-trained specialists who work in such facilities are extremely skilled in helping children relax so that they can make an accurate appraisal and give you the kind of guidance you need to help your child develop optimally.

Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education