Early Assessment: a world of difference

Montreal Autism Centre

The need for assessment

Of the 4,000,000 children born each year in the United States and Canada, between 10-20% or 400,000 to 800,000 children exhibit delayed mental development. The traditional approach taken with children who exhibit "slow walking or slow talking" has long been either that of "wait and see" as was the case with slow talking, or referral for a comprehensive evaluation in the case of motor delay.

Adopting the "wait and see" approach has an extremely high potential of creating additional difficulties for the child already slow to develop talking; untreated, expressive language delay is likely to continue at a time when peers develop expressive language at an exponential rate. Often, assessments are deferred until a child is about three years old. The child may then be seen by either a neurologist or a psychologist, both of whom, will, in different ways attempt to infer intellectual or mental capabilities, based primarily on tests that rely heavily on motor skills.