Programs that provide a comprehensive, structured evaluation of a child's cognitive/intellectual functioning, language and communication skills, independent living skills, social and emotional development and perceptual/motor functioning in order to identify individuals who show developmental delays, determine the nature and extent of the problem and recommend a course of treatment and care. Developmental assessments are generally offered by a developmental assessment specialist, or a team of professionals that can include a pediatrician, language specialist, audiologist, occupational therapist, child psychologist and child psychiatrist, among others. They involve age-adjusted questions regarding a child's growth, physical movements, behaviour, play, and interactions with family members and the rest of the world as well as a series of tests that may include a physical exam, hearing and eye screenings, play observation, and standardized tests that present the child with specific tasks to determine areas of strength and weakness. Developmental assessments are occasionally done for adults. They can also be used to identify individuals who have developmental disabilities such as intellectual disabilities, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, autism and neurological impairments, in order to develop a plan for remediation and care.
Programs that identify infants, toddlers and in some cases, preschoolers who show evidence of or are at risk for lags in physical development, cognitive development, language and speech development, psychosocial development or self-help skills, and provide or coordinate the delivery of an enrichment program in order to minimize the potential for a developmental delay and to meet their current developmental needs. The program may include early identification activities (child find); a developmental evaluation; a review of family concerns, priorities and resources; meetings with the family to develop an individualized family service plan; service coordination to ensure that the individual and his or her family receive needed services which may include but are not limited to physical therapy, occupational therapy, audiology, health/medical services, nursing services, nutrition services, psychological services including specialized play groups or therapy sessions, counselling, speech and language assistance, special instructional services, transportation, and parenting skills development; and ongoing evaluation of the child's progress and his or her changing enrichment needs. Included are "birth to three" programs and federal, provincial or local programs that address the needs of slightly older children or children not otherwise eligible for "birth to three" programs.
The above terms and definitions are part of the Taxonomy of Human Services, used here by permission of INFO LINE of Los Angeles.