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Developmental Assessment Introduction

When assessing very young students or students demonstrating more classic characteristics of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it may not be possible to administer formal standardized assessments to establish the student’s functioning. Yet such information is needed to determine appropriate identification and programming.

Overview of Instruments

Developmental assessments provide an alternative method for gaining information about the student’s cognitive abilities, as well as many other areas, including academic skills, motor skills, communication and language skills, social skills, and self-help/adaptive skills. The assessments in this category consist of screening instruments, criterion-referenced measures, rating scales, and norm-referenced measures, some of which can be completed by a teacher or caregiver or through direct interaction with the child being assessed. If the developmental measure does not address adaptive behavior, a separate measure of adaptive behavior will provide additional important data for the evaluation team to consider in programming decisions.

The following developmental assessments are reviewed in this section of the TARGET:

  • Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development –Third Edition (Bayley-III)
  • Battelle Developmental Inventory – Second Edition (BDI-2)
  • Developmental Activities Screening Inventory – Second Edition (DASI-II)
  • Developmental Assessment of Young Children – Second Edition (DAYC-2)
  • Hawaii Early Learning Profile (HELP) and the Help for Special Preschoolers Assessment Checklist (HSPAC)
  • Developmental Profile –Third Edition (DP-3)
  • Psychoeducational Profile –Third Edition (PEP-3)
  • Mullen Scales of Early Learning: AGS Edition
  • Merrill-Palmer-Revised Scales of Development (M-P-R)
  • Transdisciplinary Play-Based Assessment – Second Edition (TPBA-2)


Myth Reality
Some students are untestable. No student is untestable. It is a matter of finding the most appropriate and suitable approach. For example, when standardized testing procedures are ineffective, administer a test in a non-standardized fashion and collect meaningful qualitative data. Always document when you break standardization guidelines. Alternate sources of data may be used. Examples include developmental measures, observations, informal student assessment, portfolios, and interviews with the teacher/parent/caregiver.
Developmental quotients, IQs, and mental ages provide important information about a student. While scores from measures are informative, test results are only one piece of the picture. Do not underestimate the value of qualitative information gathered during the evaluation. Numbers do not define a student.

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