Pediatricians often rely on clinical judgment derived from observation or parental concern to identify children with developmental problems. The less popular but recommended alternative is to repeatedly administer standardized screening tests. Such tests are time consuming but, unlike clinical judgment, have known detection rates. Preliminary research concerning clinical judgment showed that clusters of parental concerns related to their childrens' performances on screening tests. In the present study, previous research was refined by assessment of the meaning of parents' concerns about their childrens' speech-language development. In this study of 157 families seeking pediatric care, 72% of children whose speech-language screening yielded positive results had parents who were concerned about their speech-language development. Of children with negative screening results, 83% had parents with no concerns about their speech-language development. Although standardized screening tests should be used occasionally in the developmental surveillance process, the findings show that the problems of most children with developmental problems were detected through clinical judgment based on parental concern.
- Received October 23, 1989.
- Accepted March 15, 1990.
- Copyright © 1991 by the American Academy of Pediatrics