Six month follow-up: the crucial test of multidisciplinary developmental assessment

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Participation of parents in the developmental assessment process is thought to be beneficial in promoting understanding of their child's disability, and improving consensus between parents and professionals about appropriate intervention programmes. If costly multidisciplinary assessments are to be justified, it is necessary to establish long-term benefits for the child. This highlights a need for research identifying how families use services after diagnostic assessment and what they understand to be important for their child. Poor parent-professional agreement about diagnosis may be a factor contributing to low compliance with recommendations. The major purpose of the current study was to follow-up families 6 months after developmental assessment, in order to investigate use of recommended intervention services. In addition, mothers' opinions about diagnostic findings, recommendations and early intervention services were examined. Subjects were 40 pre-school children who presented for developmental assessment, and their mothers. The majority were diagnosed with developmental problems in multiple domains. Results indicated that most mothers recalled and agreed with their child's diagnosis, but underestimated the severity of developmental delay. Families had not accessed the range of multidisciplinary intervention programmes recommended, given the complexity of their children's disabilities. Speech therapy was considered the service of highest priority by mothers, and was the treatment most frequently received. Mothers recognized a need for more therapeutic interventions for their child. An unexpected finding was the high prevalence of families who organized nonprescribed therapies. Possible explanations of the findings and implications for service delivery are discussed.

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