Occupational therapists (OTs) help enable children to participate in meaningful activities. Assessments help determine a child's needs, whether they require direct or indirect services or referral to other medical health professionals. Assessments examine behavioural, cognitive, affective, psychomotor, and environmental domains to determine a child's strengths and limitations related to occupational performance issues. Many assessment methods or tools are available, including interviews, observations, standardized and non-standardized assessments, and OTs often use various methods when working with a client.
Interviews are often the first assessment method OTs utilize. Interviews help build client rapport and gather information about a child or their family to determine how their issues affect participation in occupations. During the interview, an OT may learn how a child perceives themself in various roles or settings. It also helps set the stage for future interactions and is crucial for developing the client-therapist relationship.
Observations help to gather additional information about a child's occupational performance. More specifically, observations can be used to identify if a child is processing information necessary to perform a particular activity in the context of their environment. Observation techniques are divided into two categories, which are naturalistic and structured observation.
Standardized assessments are invaluable clinical tools because test questions and administration methods, scoring, and interpretations are consistent. Consistency allows for a trustworthy comparison of a child's scores from one assessment time to the next. Deviation from the standardized procedures can negatively impact any conclusions about the child's test performance.
Reference: Wilson, Elaine, and Helen Edwards. Occupational Therapy for Children with Special Needs. Wiley, 1998.