By Hallie Bulkin
It really irks me (yes, irks me!) when I see professionals use a “one size fits all” approach. This occurs in SO many ways on a daily basis. From teachers who refuse to use a multidisciplinary approach to therapists who try to stick kids in groups together and approach the children the same way (when they need differentiation), to standardized tests that attempt to put a two-year-old in a standardized “box” with same aged peers and clinicians who check off boxes and insert those results into a staged report that does not describe the child and suggests that you should treat to the failed test items, rather than the child’s true needs.
Well, the one thing I can do is promise that I will NEVER do any of the above in my practice. The families and children that I work with inside my private practice are valuable and deserve individualized treatment plans. The children I work with experience quick progress because they have therapy sessions tailored to their particular needs, which sometimes change from one session to the next. If you are not seeing progress in therapy, it may be the result of a one size fits all approach and treatment plan.
I strongly believe…
There is no one way for each family.
There is no one way for each child.
There is no one way to treat the same disorder.
When you run on this mentality, it keeps you on your toes. It is challenging but it is oh, so rewarding to see the progress each of my little clients make on a regular basis.
For those professionals who are reading this, this is not an attack on you. This is just a reminder that each child is different and no two children are the same regardless of a diagnosis. We must treat children based on their individual cases and behaviors, not based on the results of a standardized diagnostic tool.
I feel so strongly about this that I rarely administer standardized tests to children under the age of 5. In fact, I typically only do it if a parent needs it for insurance or school placement reasons. Otherwise, we use more informal data from therapy sessions, observations and language sampling that gives far more details.
It’s all about looking at the individual person, their strengths, what their struggles are and how you can use the child’s strengths to build up their area(s) of struggle. You learn more from interacting informally in play with the child than a test can ever tell you for that age. A speech and language sample during a child-led activity will tell you more than sticking them in a room and assessing the child; even if they are nonverbal!
Next time you want to get your toddler assessed, consider this article and make sure you are doing it for the right reason(s)!