Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 3, Lesson 5
John Jones is 32 months old. Consider Figure 1: Running Record Observation which targets his interactions with caregivers.
Reflect on how John communicates based on the observational data. What cognitive skills do you note? Do you see any data about his social skills with adults? What do you note about John's behavior?
Early Steps has recommended that arena assessment be used when evaluating and assessing infants and toddlers. This model of assessment has received increasing attention in the professional literature as a transdisciplinary family centered approach.
The pragmatics of the approach are worthy of consideration as professionals work across disciplines. Given the widespread usage of the arena assessment approach in early intervention settings across the nation, Parette, Bryde, Hoge and Hogan (1995) provided a close examination of the pragmatic aspects of the approach including benefits and challenges in their article, Pragmatic Issues Regarding Arena Assessment in Early Intervention. A summary of the article is provided below.
Benefits discussed by Parette et al. (1995) included:
- less intrusion on family time since duplication of efforts is not required when disciplines and domains assess together
- greater consistency in assessment findings among team members
- the advantage of keeping the facilitator with the best rapport engaged with the child over a period of time, allowing other team members to make suggestions and ask questions
- less fatigue and resistance on the part of the young child to the assessment experience
- immediate use of information obtained by other professionals since the team is included in simultaneous observation and assessment, as opposed to waiting for the information in a written report
- valuable interaction among team members for answering questions such as how to position a child, or what part of the vision field is most useful
- the simultaneous availability of personnel from multiple disciplines to families for providing information and answer specific questions
- more comprehensive information with a picture of the "whole child"
- more closely aligned with family-centered philosophy underpinning the development of the IFSP
Challenges discussed by Parette et al. (1995) included:
- arranging space in an ecological setting familiar to the child which also accommodates the needs of team members (e.g. ideally the family home free of distracters with adequate space for team members and any special testing items to accommodate augmentative needs)
- providing for adequate rapport building time between the team member, who will serve as facilitator, and the child
- addressing professionals' individual comfort levels in having colleagues watch them work with a child
- exercising care in choosing assessment instruments which are conducive to valid measurements within an arena environment
- clarifying the role families will play in the arena assessment
- accommodating and respecting family cultural differences that protect the integrity of the family unit
- scheduling adequate planning time for the arena and allowing for appropriate staff utilization
- managing sensitivities related to professional disciplines unwilling to relinquish their "turf"
- using appropriate billing procedures which vary across disciplines and agencies
In sum, even with the aforementioned challenges, Parette et al. (1995) conclude that the arena assessment approach allows for professionals and families to work collaboratively in a significant and meaningful manner. Further, they state that traditional fragmented assessments of yesteryear have examined children with a domain specific focus and not yielded the benefits of the arena approach with its holistic picture of the child.
Having read the summary of the Parette et al. (1995) article, reflect on the following mental picture of an arena assessment.
Jared, a 6 month old, was cocaine exposed in utero. "He is still jittery sometimes" according to his family, has concerns with reflux and significant hypertonia. He lives with his dad and paternal grandmother who are very devoted to him. Today the team will do an arena evaluation and assessment at the family's home.
The arena assessment team is sitting on the floor in the family room. The room is well lit and pleasant with a number of Jared's favorite baby toys neatly stacked in a toy basket at the end of the couch.
The Service Coordinator has formed a comfortable relationship with Jared and his family during a prior visit to the home. The family has told her that their biggest concern is that "Jared has a stiff body and they are afraid he won't be able to sit up."
Jared's arena assessment team consists of his dad and grandmother, a physical therapist, an ITDS and the Service Coordinator. The Service Coordinator talked with the family about the role they wanted to play during the assessment. They said they wanted to be observers but would be happy to help with anything other team members needed them to do. Given this, the team agreed on the roles that each team member would play during the evaluation and assessment in their pre-assessment planning meeting.
- Which team member do you think would be the best choice as facilitator during Jared's arena evaluation and assessment?
- From what you know about Jared, are there other team members who may need to be used as consultants for further evaluation and intervention planning?
- How do you think the family could feel involved as a true team member in the arena assessment and what could be done to increase their comfort level with the process?
Read the article Assessing Young Children for whom English is a Second Language by Mary McLean. You will find this article in the Resource Bank. Dr. McLean discusses several considerations in assessing young English Language Learners (ELLs). Consider the strategies that are suggested and how you might apply them to your setting.
The final activity for this lesson and module is a culminating activity.
Read Recommended Practices in Assessment (p.17-27) by John T. Neisworth and Stephen J. Bagnato from DEC Recommended Practices in Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education. Eight qualities are mentioned in the chapter operationalizing the concept of developmentally appropriate practice in assessment for early intervention. The qualities are: utility, acceptability, authenticity, collaborative, convergence, equitability, sensitivity, and congruency.
As you review the practices in light of the eight qualities, determine how these practices apply to you in your role as an ITDS. Consider your role in the assessment process within Early Steps. Are there changes you professionally need to make? Are there changes your local Early Steps agency needs to make?
Lesson 5 Highlights
Strategies were presented for assessing infants and toddlers with disabilities during play. In addition, several methods were discussed for assessing children in the cognitive, communication, motor and social areas. Assessment is an on-going process especially with young children. It is important that ITDS have knowledge of a wide variety of strategies in order to identify the strengths and needs of the child.
Blasco, P. M. (2001). Early intervention services for infants and toddlers, and their families. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Casby, M. W. (2003). Developmental assessment of play: A model for early intervention. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 24 (4), 175-183.
Cohen, L. G. & Spenciner, L. J. (1998). Assessment of children and youth. New York: Longman.
Crais, E. & Roberts, J. E. (2004). Assessing communication skills. In M. McLean, M. Wolery, & D. B. Bailey, Jr. (Eds.), Assessing infants and preschoolers with special needs (3rd ed) (pp. 345-405). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Cross, L. (2001). Early communication development. In M. S. Lue (Ed.) A survey of communication disorders for the classroom teacher. Needham Heights: MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Linder, T. W. (1990). Transdisciplinary play-based assessment: A functional approach to working with young children. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.
Kalyanpur, M. & Harry, B. (1999). Culture in special education: Building reciprocal family-professional relationships. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.
McLean, M. (1998). Assessing young children for whom English is a second language. Young Exceptional Children, 1(3), 20-25.
Neisworth, J.T. and Bagnato, S. J (2000). Recommended practices in assessment. In S. Sandall, M.E. McLean & B. J. Smith (Eds.), DEC recommended practices in early intervention/early childhood special education. Longmont, CO: Sopris West.
Noonan, M.J. and McCormick, L. (1993). Early intervention in natural environments: Methods and procedures. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.
Odum, S. L., Schertz, H., Munson, L.J. and Brown, W. H. (2004.). Assessing social competence. In M. McLean, M. Wolery, & D. B. Bailey, Jr. (Eds.), Assessing infants and preschoolers with special needs (3rd ed) (pp. 412-450). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Parette, H.P., Bryde, S., Hoge, D.R., Hogan, A. (1995). Pragmatic issues regarding arena assessment in early intervention. Infant Toddler Intervention, 5, 243-254.
Salvia, J. & Ysseldyke, J. (2001). Assessment (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co.
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