Why early assessment is important

There is growing evidence that early identification of developmental difficulties and early focused interventions lead to significant improvements in child’s cognitive functioning, adaptive and social behaviour and language skills.

It can be explained by a child’s brain plasticity and ability to develop and learn new skills. Research shows that early diagnosis made during preschool or before associated with the use of focused interventions is likely to have a positive effect on symptoms and later skills.

The assessment helps to understand a child’s individual strengths and weaknesses and to apply specific interventions to target these areas. Some children and young people who have significant difficulties despite interventions may benefit from medication for example for problems with attention span, hyperactivity, anxiety or sleep difficulties. The aim of medication is to minimize the impact of developmental problems on a child’s or young person’s daily functioning and quality of life. It often allows the interventions to be more effective for a child as it allows the child to engage better in the therapy sessions.

In many cases, there is an overlap between Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Developmental Coordination Disorder. Children and young people may also have co-morbid general and specific learning difficulties and mental health difficulties, like for example anxiety or depression. It is important that treatment addresses child or young person specific needs, rather than the diagnostic label.