Skip to main content

Developmental Assessments

What is Developmental Delay? When should I be worried?

Children experience rapid development and achieve many essential skills in what is considered to be one of the most critical periods of childhood development between 0 and 6 years. Some skills in critical areas can be picked up by the child relatively quickly, and others are acquired more slowly. For this reason, childhood development is a complex and gradual process that is not linear. Instead, children grow in spurts and at different rates, therefore there is wide variation in what is considered ‘age-appropriate’ or ‘normal’ development.

Developmental Delay is a term used for children under the age of 5 years who have reached their usual milestones at an age that is sufficiently later than expected. Delays can also be seen more broadly across all areas of development, referred to as Global Developmental Delay. However, it can be challenging to know if a child’s slower development is within this ‘normal’ range or is delayed.

Although there is much variation in the timing of young children development of specific skills in critical areas, developmental follow-up, assessment and intervention is essential when children have not obtained particular skills by an estimated developmental milestone. If you are concerned about your child’s development, often the important first step is to talk to your family GP, early childhood nurse or Paediatrician.

Assessment of Developmental Delay

A formal assessment of developmental delay can play a vital part in identifying if your child’s development is significantly falling behind their peers and, more importantly, in your child’s early intervention planning. A formal assessment can identify your child’s current difficulties and strengths in all areas of their development and will let you know more specifically how they are developing in relation to their peers. But most importantly, the assessment can be used to tailor your child’s early intervention.

One of the most commonly used tools to assess child development is the Griffiths Scales of Child Development 3rd Edition (GRIFFITHS-III). This tool and tools like this can only be administered by trained specialists. These specialists can examine and interpret a child’s skills in the primary developmental areas listed above, noting strengths and weaknesses and developmental ages.

The Griffiths III will assess your child’s development in relation to their peers in all areas; gross motor skills, fine motor skills, speech and language skill, personal/social skills, non-verbal problem-solving abilities, and practical reasoning skills.

Early Intervention for Developmental Delays

There is strong evidence for early tailored intervention to assist children in developing delayed skills. Due to ‘brain plasticity’ in childhood and ‘sensitive’ developmental periods in early development, early intervention is considered to be critical. Early intervention allows a child to receive additional and tailored intervention for their individual needs. The NDIS recognises the importance and long-term benefit of providing early intervention support for children under seven years. A formal assessment can help you identify your child’s specific early intervention needs.

Developmental Assessments at May

The benefit of a developmental assessment at May is that Psychologist Dr Annabel Marsh is a very experienced and appropriately trained diagnostician. Dr Marsh is a trained specialist who uses the Griffiths Scales of Development (III) to provide comprehensive and appropriate diagnoses, placing the highest importance on clients being appropriately diagnosed to ensure that intervention will target your child’s needs. Dr Marsh provides comprehensive feedback and written reports with detailed recommendations to ensure your child’s strengths and weaknesses are identified and used to guide individualised early intervention programs.