Assessment tools for child development, global as well as social and emotional
by Robin Balbernie

This page is an edited extract from a paper written by Robin Balbernie on assessment and evaluation measures / tools that can be used in early intervention services. See the full paper here. Robin divides all the tools he describes into nine areas of which child development is the sixth, each of the nine areas has a separate page on this wiki, links to all nine areas are available on an overview page.)

1. The two Ages and Stages Questionnaires are useful here, and widely used in infant mental health / early intervention services in America and
elsewhere. They can be parent completed alone, but are far better done by a practitioner with the parent (after a
few meetings) as all the questions can open up aspects of the child’s behaviour and the parent’s anxieties. They do not take very long to
complete, and parents like having a copy and this can be shared with other agencies. Make sure you have the latest versions. See: The ASQ-3
begins at age 2 months and covers communication, gross and fine motor skills, problem-solving and personal-social skills. The scoring
and how this relates to a developmental norm are both clear. This is useful if there is a suspicion that the infant may have a developmental
delay, showing up the need for a further referral, and there are allowances made for prematurity.

2. The ASQ:SE2 (second edition) complements the ASQ-3 and focuses on social and emotional development and produces a score which can
be compared to their benchmark cut-off score for each age. It can first be used at age two months; and the time taken increases a bit with age
as the child can do more things. Many questions link to behaviours one would expect to see if the attachment system is activated. No training
needed to administer either of these – but for the ASQ you are often stuck for a clear bottle and a Cheerio. Comes with clear and useful
handouts appropriate for each age.

3. Similar but more comprehensive is the SWYC, Survey of Well-being of Young Children, with the great advantage of being free. See: from where all forms, information and details of scoring can be downloaded. It was written to be simple to answer,
short and easy to read. Every form includes sections on developmental milestones, behavioural and emotional development and family risk
factors. At an appropriate age a section for screening for Autistic Spectrum is included. It covers from age two months to sixty months. A
revised version addresses postnatal depression as a major issue in the development and well-being of young children

4. The Attachment Screening Questionnaire (ASA) developed by The Anna Freud Centre looks at the behaviours of the child in situations
where normally the attachment system would be activated; e.g. when frightened or in distress. It carries a series of descriptors coupled to a
five point Likert Scale. This looks very useful but I have no further information.

5. The Brief Infant-Toddler Social and Emotional Assessment (BITSEA) that screens for social, emotional and behavioral problems and delays
in overall competence. See: This spans
age 12 to 35 months and seems to be widely used in America, and has been well validated. It takes about ten minutes to complete. Paper on
this at: Also

6. The Alarm Distress Baby Scale can be used to assess social withdrawal in children under the age of three. For full information and a
download of the scale (after registering) see: The scale comprises eight items including: lack of facial
expression; lack of eye contact; lack of general level of activity; presence of self-stimulating gestures; lack of vocalizations; lack of
rapidity of response to stimulation; lack of relationship with the observer; lack of attractiveness to the observer. Each item is rated from
0 to 4 resulting in 0 as the minimum and 32 as the maximum ADBB total score. The higher the ADBB score, the greater the signs of social
withdrawal displayed by the infant.