The purpose of a developmental assessment for children and adolescents is to assess certain parameters of their functioning. These areas are inclusive of their motor skills, language skills, behaviour and cognition (Vernon & Strein, 1996). The developmental assessment, especially in younger infants, is used to make assessment of their adaptive, motor and sensory skills. The developmental assessments are done in children and adolescents especially due to a concern that the child may have some disorder or a delay in their normal development (Kazdin, 2005). It is crucial to include a developmental assessment when evaluating children because the assessment can help identify possible issues in development and show the need, if one is present, for a further diagnostic evaluation in the child. It also aids in giving an evaluation, which is objective in nature, as to the deficits and abilities of the child. It also comes in handy when evaluating the need for an inclusion in programs like early intervention programs to aid the child catch up in areas which have been identified as deficit. A developmental evaluation is also vital in determining whether or not a child has autism.
One example of an assessment instrument could be an oral and written questionnaire. This is administered to children in order to assess the self-reported traits of the child (Vernon & Clemente, 2005). The questions are usually designed to aid the instructor understand where the child places themselves on the developmental scale and this will further aid further in understanding what developmental needs and interventions are required as of this stage. Observational or demonstration checklists are another prime example of assessment instruments. The examiner in this case does an independent observation of the individual while checking for the listed behavioural traits in children. The development instruments are used in children and not in adults because interventions can be taken at an early stage to deter against unwanted behaviour. It is only in early childhood as well as teenage years where interventions can be taken as the mind is still adaptable and malleable to change. At adulthood, such interventions are exercises in futility.
Acceptance and commitment therapy is a treatment intervention that is used in children and adolescents but cannot be similarly used in adults (Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 2009). This treatment intervention is used in children because they do not have a full grasp as to their emotional states. However, adults are presumed to be more aware of their emotions as well as depressive states if they are present. ACT is a vital treatment used in children and adolescents to help them accept their emotional states and commit to moving forward with treatment and therapy. Dialectical behavioural therapy is used in teenagers especially with suicidal ideation as well as those who engage in acts of self-harm. The treatment is not as effective for older adults and CBT is more appropriate with the aid of psychotropic drugs.
Parents play a vital role in assessment. For one, they can gain useful insight as to the condition of their children. Their position as the primary caregivers for children means that they will be able to take the matters into their hands and ensure the steps advised are taken. Parents can also provide the medical practitioner useful insight as to the child’s behaviour and development based on their observations. Children’s self-reported behaviour might not be accurately presented and parents aid the assessment process by filling in the gaps.
Hayes, S. C., Strosahl, K. D., & Wilson, K. G. (2009). Acceptance and commitment therapy. Washington, DC:: American Psychological Association.
Kazdin, A. E. (2005). Evidence-based assessment for children and adolescents: Issues in measurement development and clinical application. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 34(3), 548-558.
Vernon, A., & Clemente, R. (2005). Assessment and intervention with children and adolescents: Developmental and multicultural approaches. American Counseling Association.
Vernon, A., & Strein, W. (1996). Developmental assessment and intervention with children and adolescents. Psyccritiques, 41(3).
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