Collecting Information about Infants and Toddlers A Smorgasbord of Choices

Early Childhood Interventions December 15, 2014

A primary role of an early interventionist is to document the development of a young child. We collect this type of information for a variety of reasons, including to: determine skill level, determine strengths, determine patterns of development, etc. We collect information in five primary developmental domains: adaptive, cognitive, communication, motor, and social-emotional. We use assessment tools, evaluation tests, screening procedures to make these determinations. Using procedures that are structured helps us feel confident that the differences we may see are accurate. Assessing children early is key to the identification of delays and referral to services and supports that may be of help to promote functional participation of the child in everyday activities.

However, there are so many tools and tests available that all appear to do the same thing. SO— “What’s the difference?!” This blog will outline the basic differences among five commonly used early intervention assessments: Assessment, Evaluation, And Programming System for Infants and Children-2ndEd. (AEPS-2), Ages and Stages Questionnaires, 3rd Ed. (ASQ-3), Battelle Development Inventory, 2nd Ed.(BDI-2), Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development-3rd Ed.(BSID-III), and the Hawaii Early Learning Profile (HELP).

Each of these tools collects information about the child’s status in the five major developmental domains: motor, cognition, communication, social-emotional, and adaptive. Although these tools are similar there are some clear differences that indicate the strengths of each one. AEPS is widely regarded as one of the best curriculum-based, criterion-referenced tools in the early childhood field. ASQ-3 is considered an accurate, family-friendly way to screen children for developmental delays between one month and 5½ years. The BDI-2 and the BSID-III are norm-referenced standardized tools that determine if a child is delayed in comparison to his or her age group peers. The BDI-2 has also been shown to be useful to monitor change in development over time.

The following chart describes each of these five tools on five main elements of test/tool construction: purposetype, content, administration and scoring.


The psychometric qualities of a tool are also important to consider, because reliability and validity are important to help a practitioner determine which tools will give them the most accurate information for their purposes. Reliability provides information on consistency of each assessment tool while validity refers to how well a test measures what it is purported to measure.

Pricing and availability are other issues to take into account when a practitioner tries to choose the right assessment. Please see the chart below to find the cost, ordering information and website for each tool.



Meng Lyu
East China Normal University