What to Expect at a Developmental Assessment

Photo of child talking to doctors

When someone has concerns about your child’s development, a developmental assessment may be recommended. A developmental assessment involves getting to know your child and family in order to better understand his or her strengths and needs. Children’s development can vary greatly. Sometimes developmental concerns can be caused by a developmental disorder that can be diagnosed. Developmental disorders may only be diagnosed by physicians, psychologists, and/or psychological associates under the Registered Health Professions Act.

A developmental assessment may involve one professional or several professionals from different disciplines. Your child may be seen by a developmental pediatrician, psychologist, psychological associate, speech language pathologist, occupational therapist, social worker, and/or other clinicians with expertise in child development. The assessment may involve more than one visit over a period of time.

At a developmental assessment, you should expect to spend some time talking about how your child has grown and developed. Parents know their children best, so your input will be very important. It’s also important to bring any reports regarding your child to the first appointment. Informal and/or formal observations of your child’s play and social interactions with others may occur. The assessment of young children may involve having the child play with toys, puzzles and blocks, looking at pictures, answering questions, drawing, and/or completing pencil and paper type tasks. With your signed consent, the clinician(s) may consult with the school, child care, and/or other professionals involved with your child. Most children really enjoy their time playing and interacting with the clinician(s).

When the assessment is completed, parents will have the opportunity to discuss the findings, impressions, and recommendations with the clinician(s). Typically, a report is written summarizing these results and recommendations, and then given to the parents and the referring physician. With your consent, a copy of the assessment report may be sent to other professionals, such as the child’s speech language pathologist. You may also wish to distribute a copy of the report to your child’s school or child care.

Developmental assessments at hospitals are generally covered by OHIP and require a valid health card as well as a physician’s referral. The waiting lists at these clinics tend to be lengthy. Parents may also choose to see a private practitioner on a fee for service basis. Sometimes, families may have some coverage for a private assessment through their extended health benefit plans.


North York General Hospital, Child Development Clinic

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