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Several of the practice tools encourage the use of proven tests and instruments for measuring aspects of a child's development. These instruments have been developed by researchers to ensure that the evidence they assemble is (a) reliable: meaning that if two observers see the same thing they record the same thing, and (b) valid: meaning that the researcher is sure that she is measuring what she thinks is being measured, and not something else.

These instruments are mainly designed for research and not clinical practice. They are assembled with the demands of research - for example several interviewers collecting data on several hundred cases concerning narrow aspects of child development. Practitioners, by contrast, tend to be concerned with few cases and take a broad view of child development.

For this reason, these instruments come with a strong health warning: they should never be used as the sole rationale for a clinical judgement. It can be helpful to know that an instrument indicates a child to be more hyperactive than most children; but this finding should be read alongside other sources, such as interviews with parents, children, teachers and other professionals, observations of the person doing the assessment as well as data from case records. Where several instruments are used, it can be helpful to see if the results fit. For example, if one instrument indicated hyperactivity and another ordinary patterns of anti-social behaviour, the potential lack of fit would deserve closer scrutiny.

This part of the site will contain two sources of support. First, sources of information about about obtaining relevent tests and instruments and, second, a matrix of commonly used instruments and a gateway to other sites where tests can be downloaded. While these will undoubtably be a useful starting point for people using the tools, please note that these are internal documents and have not externally validated or cross-checked.