ages and stages

At Johanna's 9-month check up we were given an Ages and Stages Questionnaire to fill out. Typically, I look at our development book before her wellness check ups mainly to see which vaccinations she needs and what the pediatrician will be checking for. This is for no other reason than just knowing because of my fear of the unknown. I need to prepare myself mentally and emotionally for each wellness appointment. We've already established the fact that I have a bizarre personality so I already know what you're thinking!

For this check up, I knew we wouldn't be getting any vaccinations so I forgot to check the book to prepare myself. Oh no, right?! Well I had no idea about the ages and stages questionnaire so it was a bit of a surprise to me. Really, there's no way to prepare for an assessment because the point is to be honest in your answers so the grading system is accurate. However, this assessment allows you the opportunity to try each category with your baby and if they are not doing something listed, you can teach them or begin practicing. If you're like me, you love assessments (the entire basis of my master's degree).

The ages and stages assessment is broken up into 5 categories. These include communication skills, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, problem solving skills and personal-social skills. Seems like your baby is preparing for their doctorate degree already, right? These categories are then broken down into development milestones that your baby may or may not be doing by the age of 9 months. If they have not yet completed something listed on the assessment, there is no need to panic!

Each development milestone is graded as a “yes,” “sometimes,” or “not yet.” I like the wording “not yet” instead of a flat out “no.” For example, the first milestone listed under the communication category says, “does your baby make sounds like da, ga, ka and ba?” You can answer yes, sometimes or not yet. There are 38 questions in total and your answers are used to achieve a grade for each category.

Achieving a grade means determining the development level of a child through their parents report. An answer of “yes” is 10 points, an answer of “sometimes” is 5 points and an answer of “not yet” is 0 points. It gets a bit complicated when scoring an entire assessment by each category so I'll try my best to explain.

There are cutoff scores which will determine whether your child needs further assessment with a professional, whether your child needs more learning activities and monitoring or if the child's development appears to be on schedule for each category, not as an entirety. Each category has its own cutoff score and depending on your baby's development, their score will fall into one of these three categories. For example, the communication category has 5 questions. After adding your score from each question you will come up with a number that either falls short of the cutoff score, passes the cutoff score or surpasses the cutoff score. Falling short determines further assessment, passing determines learning and monitoring and surpassing determines being on schedule. Each category is one in it's own and there is no one grade for the assessment.

I hope this makes sense to you Mama's and I wouldn't be too concerned about your baby's scores for each category especially because every baby is different! The reason I'm posting about this is because it's a good idea to know these kind of things ahead of time. It gives you the opportunity to try each activity with your baby before filling out the questionnaire, making a game out of it with your baby and simply know where your baby is developmentally.

It also gives you the opportunity to act early and work with your pediatrician if there is any concern from you about your baby. If you're like me you're concerned about everything but there could be something that needs a bit more attention than other things and completing this assessment helps you and your doctor determine that!

As I've said before, having a baby is full of trials and errors. You're going to be concerned, you're going to freak out, you're going to start googling things uncontrollably, you're going to feel like you're doing something wrong but hear me out Mama's. Relax! Everything is going to be fine!

I love that we completed this assessment because I now know exactly where Johanna needs to be developmentally. What are your thoughts about assessments and developmental milestones?

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