Home Children / Teens Assessments Developmental Delay
Developmental delay can be defined as a delay in one or more developmental milestones in a child under the age of 6.
These developmental milestones include:
• Motor skills: fine and gross
• Language: expression and comprehension
• Intellectual capacities
• Daily living skills
• Social skills
If the delay is minor, we refer to a lagging behind in development.
If the delay is major or concerns two or more domains of development, we refer to global developmental delay.
Developmental delay can be detected at various ages by:
• The parents: they are often the first to be concerned that their child is not meeting the developmental milestones for their age
• The paediatrician: their role is preventative and to alert in case of developmental delay
• Primary school or kindergarten: child care workers, kindergarten assistants and teachers are familiar with observing the stages of development and in the institutional setting are able to compare with the development of other children.
At any one point in time, our brain is carrying out complex procedures to gather and process the information it encounters. In order to do so, it uses what are known as "cognitive functions". Cognitive functions can be defined as the cerebral activities that lead to knowledge (cognition). They include all types of mechanisms for acquiring information, namely:
It is thanks to the efficiency of our cognitive functions that we can participate in the world around us and learn. When a child has difficulties learning or being in the world, it means that there are deficits or at least difficulties with one or more of their cognitive functions.
Due to the complexity of the brain and it’s functioning, an exploration of the different capacities that may have an influence on the relationship with the world and learning, is essential. For example, children with autism often display varying difficulties that should be assessed, such as emotional, social, attention, language-based and mobility impairments.
If a developmental delay is suspected before the age of 6, a developmental assessment can be carried out. This involves assessment of the child’s stage of development in relation to that of other children of the same age. The following aspects are examined:
A developmental assessment enables the detection of deficits as well as helping to make diagnostic hypotheses and to orient the therapeutic care plan as well as psychoeducational strategies at school and at home.
Under the age of 6, the child is in a stage of phenomenal neuronal and psycho-affective development. The diagnostic hypotheses based on the developmental assessment should be verified around the age of 6 once the brain functions are not in such a major phase of development.
As the brain functions are still in the process of developing, we cannot expect, for example, a 3-year-old to have fully developed attentional capacities and to be able to concentrate. For this reason, this cognitive cannot be assessed. Certain cognitive functions cannot be assessed before the age of 6.
Therefore, a full psychological and neuropsychological assessment at the age of 6 allows for the diagnosis to be confirmed or otherwise and for an evaluation of the totality of the cognitive functions in depth. In the meanwhile, psychological treatment can be offered to assist the child in their development.
In case of a suspected developmental delay, for children from the age of 6 and above, a full psychological and neuropsychological assessment must be carried out. The full assessment links together cognitive development with emotional and affective development.
* Neuropsychological assessment examines cognitive development. It analyses the totality of the cognitive (brain) functions. By exploring the symptoms displayed by the child, it enables deficits of any of the brains functions to be identified. It examines the following cognitive aspects of the child:
* Psychological assessment examines emotional and social development. It allows the psychologist to identify the specificities of a child’s personality and whether or not any disorder is present. It examines the following psychological aspects of the child:
The assessment helps to respond to several questions.
The evaluation allows for difficulties to be identified and for a diagnosis or diagnostic hypothesis to be proposed. It enables:
The evaluation can guide the follow-up treatment and maximise the learning potential and well-being of the child. The objective is to help the child to flourish on all levels - academic, social and emotional. The evaluation helps: