Language and social/emotional problems identified at a universal developmental assessment at 30 months

Fiona Sim, John O'Dowd, Lucy Thompson, James Law, Susan MacMillan, Michelle Affleck, Christopher Gillberg, Philip Wilson

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Abstract

Background
Preschool language and neurodevelopmental problems often persist and impede learning. The aims of the current study are to assess the uptake of a new universal 30 month health visitor contact and to quantify the prevalence of language delay and social/emotional difficulties.

Methods
All families of 30 month old children in four Glasgow localities were offered a visit from their health visitor. Structured data were collected relating to language, social and emotional development using three instruments; The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), the abbreviated Sure Start Language Measure and a two-item language screen.

Results
From an eligible population of 543 children, there was a 90% return rate of contact forms from the health visitors, and assessments were completed on 78% of eligible children. Visit completion rates did not differ significantly by socio-economic status. 3-8% of children were reported to have language delay depending on the method of assessment. 8.8% of children scored in the “abnormal” range of SDQ total difficulties scores and 31.1% had an abnormality in at least one subscale. There was substantial overlap between language delay and abnormal scores on the SDQ.

Conclusions
Universal assessment of neurodevelopmental function at 30 months identified a significant proportion of children, including those previously considered at low risk, with both language and social/emotional difficulties. Further work is required to assess the precise nature of these difficulties and to assess the potential impact on services.
Original languageEnglish
Article number206
JournalBMC Pediatrics
Volume13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2013

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Keywords

  • child development
  • language delay
  • socio-emotional development
  • screening
  • preschool assessment
  • child health surveillance
  • child psychiatry

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