Children develop skills in five main areas:
- Cognitive Development is the child's ability to learn and solve problems.
- Social and Emotional Development is the child's ability to interact with others, including helping themselves and self-control.
- Speech and Language Development is the child's ability to both understand and use language.
- Fine Motor Skill Development is the child's ability to use small muscles, specifically their hands and fingers, to pick up small objects, hold a spoon, turn pages in a book, or use a crayon to draw.
- Gross Motor Skill Development is the child's ability to use large muscles.
The National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities has recently launched a campaign to promote early detection of developmental delays. For more information on child development and milestones, visit the Act Early website: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/ autism/actearly/
There are several general "warning signs" of possible delay. For cognitive and behavioral development, these include a child who:
- Does not pay attention or stay focused on an activity for as long a time as other children of the same age.
- Focuses on unusual objects for long periods of time; enjoys this more than interacting with others.
- Avoids or rarely makes eye contact with others.
- Gets unusually frustrated when trying to do simple tasks that most children of the same age can do.
- Shows aggressive behaviors and acting out and appears to be very stubborn compared with other children.
- Displays violent behaviors on a daily basis.
- 7. Stares into space, rocks body, or talks to self more often than other children of the same age.
- Does not seek love and approval from a caregiver or parent.
For speech and language development, these include a child who:
- Can only imitate speech or actions and doesn't produce words or phrases spontaneously.
- Says only certain sounds or words repeatedly and can't use oral language to communicate more than his or her immediate needs.
- Can't follow simple directions.
- Has an unusual tone of voice (such as raspy or nasal sounding).
- Is more difficult to understand than expected for his or her age. Parents and regular caregivers should understand about half of a child's speech at 2 years and about three quarters at 3 years. By 4 years old, a child should be mostly understood, even by people who don't know the child.
For fine motor skill development, these include a child who at:
- 3 years cannot build a tower with at least four blocks, cannot easily manipulate small objects, cannot copy a circle.
- 4 years cannot grasp a crayon between his thumb and forefinger, cannot scribble easily, cannot stack at least four blocks.
- 5 years cannot build a tower using at least six to eight blocks, cannot comfortably hold a crayon, has trouble undressing, cannot efficiently brush teeth, cannot wash and dry hands.
For more detail, please refer to http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/fine-motor-development-chart.html
For gross motor skill development, these include a child who:
- Has stiff arms and/or legs.
- Has a floppy or limp body posture compared to other children of the same age.
- Uses one side of body more than the other.
- Has a very clumsy manner compared with other children of the same age.
There are many different kinds of tests and assessments administered by various providers to determine if a student has a developmental delay or learning disability.
If the student is between the ages of three and five, the initial step in the preschool special education process is to conduct an individual evaluation. The evaluation includes the following:
1) A social history providing information about the student, the student's family and environment which may influence performance in age appropriate activities.
2) A psychological evaluation which assesses such areas as development, organization, memory, learning and other personality characteristics. For this age group, the Baylee Scales of Infant Development-2nd Edition and the Vineland Adaptive Behavioral Scale may be used by a psychologist to conduct an evaluation. Other possible assessments are the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence-Third Edition (WPPSI-III) and the Kaufman Survey of Early Academic and Language Skills (K-SEALS).
3) A physical examination to assess any physical or medical factors that may be influencing performance in age appropriate activities. (An exam can be submitted by the student's family physician.)
4) An observation report of the student in their classroom or current program. An observation may or may not include an official assessment such as The Brigance Preschool Screen or The Achenbach Caregiver Teacher Report Form (for ages one and a half years old - five years old).
5) If needed, a speech and language evaluation to assess the student's ability to understand and use language. A licensed speech-language pathologist may conduct a Preschool Language Scale-4 Test (PLS-4), an Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test Revised (EOWPVT-R)-3rd Edition, Bloom and Lahey's Developmental Paradigm, Brown's Stages or The Goldman Fristoe Test of Articulation (GFTA)-2nd Edition.
6) If needed, an assessment of motor abilities that may be influencing performance in age appropriate activities. An Occupational Therapist may administer The Peabody Developmental Motor Scales-2nd Edition (PDMS-2) Fine Motor Quotient (FMQ) and/or The Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration (VMI). The OT may request the parent complete The Short Sensory Profile as well. A Physical Therapist may adminster the PDMS-2 Gross Motor Quotient.
7) If needed, a functional behavioral assessment if the student displays interfering behaviors which detract from the learning process.
As students get older, different tests and assessments are administered. The Manhasset School District will conduct a re-evaluation every three years called a triennial evaluation.
We have included commonly used tests below.
Psychological evaluations include tests of basic processes, cognitive abilities, academic achievement, language processes, and social and emotional functioning.
- Testing basic processes includes neuropsychological and sensory screenings such as the Quick Neurological Screening Test - Revised and the Child Neuropsychological Questionaire as well as performance on the Wepman Auditory Discrimination Test (for ability to discriminate between similar consonant-vowel combinations and words) and the Beery-Beutika Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration.
- The three primary areas of cognitive functioning assessed include verbal reasoning, visual-spatial abilities, and memory processes. The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children - Fourth Edition (WISC-IV) is a test that could be used.
- The Wechsler Individual Achievement Test - Second Edition (WIAT-II) or the Woodcock-Johnson-III Tests of Achievement can be used to evaluate academic achievement.
- Several different tests could be used to test Language Processes. The Test of Language Development-Primary: Third Edition (TOLD P:3) is an instrument designed to assess expressive & receptive language, vocabulary and syntax. The Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-III (PPVT-3) is designed to assess a student's receptive vocabulary.
- An Attention Deficit Disorders Evaluation Scale (ADDES) and the Behavior Assessment for Children-Second Edition (BASC-2) are tests that could be conducted to evaluate social and emotional functioning.
Speech Evaluations involve testing spoken language, listening, organizing, semantics, syntax, Auditory word and sentence memory, and Auditory comprehension. Examples of speech evaluations are:
- Test of Language Development-Primary:3 (TOLD)
- The Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation-2nd Edition (GFTA)
- The Test of Auditory Processing skills-3 (TAPS)
Occupational Therapy Evaluations involve testing eye-hand coordination, position in space, figure-ground, spatial relations, visual discrimination, visual memory, visual sequential memory, visual motor speed and form constancy. Examples of OT evaluations are:
- The Test of Visual Perceptual Skills-Revised
- The Development Test of Visual Perception-2