Child Assessment & Testing - Developmental Delay

Child Assessment & Testing - Developmental Delay

Global developmental delay refers to a delay in two or more important areas of development . These areas include motor skills, speech and language skills, academic skills, learning ability, social and emotional skills and self-help skills. When developmental delay is suspected, psychological assessment forms only a small part of the child's overall evaluation. In order to identify the causal and maintaining factors, clinical/diagnostic assessments are necessary.


At CPAC offer a professional approach to diagnose developmental delay. Our child psychologists can test for global and specific developmental delay and screen at risk children. If we identify global developmental delay, we will refer you to appropriate medical professionals to carry out further medical tests. If your child is at risk, we will help you and work together with other professionals to design the best possible treatment plan for your child.


Global developmental delay is often identified during infancy as part of the regular health checks. From very early on, children are expected to reach developmental milestones within each key areas. For example, some of the motor skills include rolling over, sitting up, walking and picking up small objects. Speech and language skills include identifying sounds and speech, bubbling, imitating speech and finally talking. Academic skills include memory and learning. Finally, some of the social and self help skills include exploration, interacting with others and skills such as eating and dressing. When first noticed that children fail to reach these developmental milestones, further tests are needed to evaluate the extent of delay and the areas of concern.


The causes of developmental delay vary considerably and are not always known. In most cases, developmental delay is related to some form of neurological abnormality. This may be due to genetic or heredity disorders (such as Down Syndrome) or other developmental disorders that affect the nervous system (such as Cerebral Palsy or Spina Bifida). Other causes include premature birth, infections or various metabolic diseases.


Once suspected, tests can confirm the presence of developmental delay. Since the causes can be numerous, the diagnostic tests aim to cover broad areas and may include:

- Metabolic tests and screening - Genetic (Chromosome) testing
- Hearing and vision test
- Lead screening
- Thyroid screening
- Electroencephalography (EEG), Computed tomography (CT) scans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Psychological assessment

Psychological assessment often involves an in depth interview with the parent(s) and possibly a psychological assessment of the parent(s) as well. Parents are also asked to complete structured questionnaires about their children's functioning, including observations of playground behaviour, interaction with other children and various skills children are expected to perform at certain ages (e.g., tying shoe laces, dressing independently). Children are tested for motor skills, academic skills and language skills.


Early assessment and identification of possible causes can help. When medical conditions that cause developmental delay are treated, usually children's functioning improve substantially. When causes are unknown or not treatable (as in genetic disorders) it is important to put appropriate plans in place to maximise children's potential and to ensure a good quality of life.

Even if not treatable, children with developmental delay should enjoy the opportunities to discover what they are able to do and what it is that they are good at. Developing a healthy sense of self esteem should be priority when future plans are implemented.

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