The Importance of Early Assessment to Aid in Early Intervention
Early childhood assessment is the process of gathering information about a child, reviewing the information, and then using that information to plan goals and interventions as well as determining needs and supports.
For specific learning disabilities, children are typically identified during elementary school sometimes past the 4th grade. By this time, however, children are likely to have significant learning difficulties and may have a decrease in motivation and self-esteem. Learning difficulties can then continue to have an impact throughout adulthood. Early assessment and identification is crucial in identifying children with learning difficulties at an early age to try to prevent any further learning concerns or obstacles. The focus should be on finding children “at risk” as early as possible (Pesova, Sivevska, & Runceva, 2014).
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Regarding Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), early assessment is necessary for effective and evidence-based treatment. A comprehensive diagnostic assessment may include multiple respondents such as parents and teachers as well as a variety of measures including diagnostic interview, behavior rating scales, direct behavioral observations, and continuous performance tests (DuPaul, Reid, Anastopoulos, & Power, 2014). When ADHD is not diagnosed, it has been shown that individuals may have difficulties psychologically, financially, academically, and socially. ADHD that is not treated in childhood is a risk factor for later adult mental health concerns (Hamed, Kauer, & Stevens, 2015). As a result of late identification, children often do not receive the support they need in a timely manner.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
For Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), individuals with symptoms of autism may also present similarly to other developmental disorders. Included in the issues with diagnosing autism spectrum disorder is that it is a spectrum. Therefore, early assessment/identification using a variety of assessment methods is important in order to help determine necessary supports, interventions, and resources. Individuals with autism may also engage in secondary symptoms such as aggression, tantrums, and self-injury. Research has shown that early intervention, as a result of early assessment and identification, may reduce or prevent these behaviors (Horner, Carr, Strain, Todd, & Reed, 2002). Furthermore, “early intervention increases the likelihood of improved long-term outcomes” (Koegel, Koegel, Ashbaugh, & Bradshaw, 2014, p. 52).
In conclusion, these are just three of many examples regarding the need and importance of early assessment. Early assessment is vital to getting children into early intervention/treatment, which has a positive effect on current symptoms and difficulties as well as long-term outcomes.
DuPaul, G. J., Reid, R., Anastopoulos, A. D., & Power, T. J. (2014). Assessing ADHD symptomatic behaviors and functional impairment in school settings: Impact of student and teacher characteristics. School Psychology Quarterly, 29(4), 409-421.
Hamed, A. M., Kauer, A. J., & Stevens, H. E. (2015). Why the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder matters. Frontiers in psychiatry, 6, 1-10.
Horner, R. H., Carr, E. G., Strain, P. S., Todd, A. W., & Reed, H. K. (2002). Problem behavior interventions for young children with autism: A research synthesis. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 32(5), 423–446.
Koegel, L. K., Koegel, R. L., Ashbaugh, K., & Bradshaw J. (2014). The importance of early identification and intervention for children with or at risk for autism spectrum disorders, International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 16:1, 50-56
Pesova, B., Sivevska, D., & Runceva, J. (2014). Early intervention and prevention of students with specific learning disabilities. Procedia-Social and behavioral sciences, 149, 701-708.
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