I don’t know of a single parent that wants to hear their child is lagging behind the pack, or has anything going on that could be perceived as a negative. When you hear something like that you start to wonder what’s WRONG with your child. I was no different with my children, and I’m a trained professional. I knew better, but I couldn’t help it. Especially when other trained professionals perpetuated the hype.
“Let’s take a look at Raleigh’s growth chart. This dot shows that for her height she’s in the 50th percentile for girls her age, That means she’s about average, which is fine. This dot is for her weight, and as you can see she’s in the 95th percentile there.”
“What does that mean? Are you saying my baby is a porker compared to the rest of the pixies her age?”
“Oh no, not at all! I’m just saying that according to the standard…”
As professionals, this is where we need to exercise caution. While it is true that our assessment tools can be quite valuable in helping us identify areas that may be of concern, it is critical that we keep in mind that any one tool is just a tiny piece of the overall picture and there are many more variables that need to be considered.
We should also bear in mind the potential for “operator error”. In the scenario above, it is later discovered that Raleigh’s “dots” were drawn incorrectly on the graphs. She was actually a tall child of average weight compared to the other little girls her age. This drives home the point that an assessment tool is only as good as the data used to complete it. When that data is flawed, the assessment and the results generated by that assessment will also be flawed.
This brings me to Lia, and a realization I had after the first developmental assessment performed during my tenure with her.