Developmental screening is a procedure designed to identify children who should receive more intensive assessment or diagnosis for potential developmental delays. Developmental screening allows daycare providers and parents the ability to receive a snapshot of a child’s development.
Our interview with Dr. Pio Andreotti, NYS Licensed Psychologist, discusses the importance of developmental screening in the daycare centers and preschools:
OwnADaycare: Why do preschoolers undergo developmental screening? Are all children screened? At what age are they screened?
Dr. Andreotti: A preschooler will undergo a screening when there is some concern regarding their development. Typically, parents notice that their child is not walking by a certain age or that their language is not developing appropriately. Also, many times, schools and daycares will recommend to a parent that their child be screened due to concerns about language, behavior, or socialization. Not all children are evaluated. A child is referred for a developmental screening only when there is a concern regarding a delay in development. Preschool evaluations typically occur when a child is between 3 and 5 years of age.
OwnADaycare: Can you describe the tests? What types of tests do they take and what do they measure?
Dr. Andreotti: There are many different methods of evaluation. Most commonly, a child will receive a measure of cognitive functioning (i.e., an IQ test). This attempts to provide a general description of how a child will perform on certain types of verbal and non-verbal tasks. An IQ test may look at vocabulary skills, block building skills, conceptual thinking and problem solving. Children are also given tests of language development (word usage and understanding), learning and academics (letters, colors, numbers, etc), memory, organization and planning, fine motor skills, sensory-integration (how they tolerate sensory information), and gross-motor skills. All of these tests compare a child to other children in their age range. The parents are then provided with scores describing their child’s performance. So, for example, if your child’s score was at the 50th percentile, that means they are functioning above 50% of the children in their age range. Parents are also asked to complete forms. These forms attempt to determine a child’s level of adaptive functioning (i.e., self-care, communication, socialization skills). There are also forms that assess specific behaviors such as attention and hyperactivity, social language and behavior, as well as organization and self-regulation skills. Sometimes, the current daycare or child-care provider is also asked to complete these forms. All of this information is compiled and an educational plan is generated (if necessary).
OwnADaycare: What special services might a child need or what type of intervention is necessary if a child is at risk for developmental delays?
Dr. Andreotti: Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), children who are identified as having a delay in a developmental domain typically qualify for special education services. These services vary and are determined by the child’s Individualized Educational Program (IEP). Services can range from no services, to “Related Services Only” (i.e., no special class placement but the child receives speech/ occupational/ physical/ play therapy), to placement in a special class. A child will be provided a therapist to address any specific need that they may have (i.e., Speech-Language Pathologist for language difficulties, Occupational therapist for fine-motor and/or sensory-integration issues, etc.).
OwnADaycare: Are there any resources you might suggest for more information?
Dr. Andreotti: These evaluations can be done through your local school district or by private providers. Most school districts provide these evaluations at not cost to the parent. Private evaluations are conducted by independently licensed professionals and are usually on a fee-for-service basis. Depending on the age of the child and the type of coverage, medical insurance will sometimes cover the cost of a private evaluation. Parents should consult with their local school district, local disabilities organization or with national centers such as the Learning Disabilities Association of American (http://www.ldanatl.org/) for information about providers in their area.
OwnADaycare: Do you have any additional comments?
Dr. Andreotti: If you feel that your child has a delay, it is important that you seek assistance. Research suggests that the earlier an intervention can be implemented, the greater the benefit. Parents should contact their local school district to receive information regarding evaluation centers in the area.
Dr. Pio Andreotti is a NYS Licensed Psychologist experienced in working with diverse populations of all ages. He is a Neuropsychologist in private practice and the Clinical Supervisor for the Stanley S. Lamm Institute Preschool at Long Island College Hospital. In addition to his clinical experience, Dr. Andreotti has given national trainings and symposiums. He is frequently interviewed by the media, and has appeared nation-wide in media outlets such as the ABC network, CW network, and Forbes.com.
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