How to Assess the Special Developmental Needs of a Child – Using the Battelle Developmental Inventory


Developmental milestones are tasks, abilities, and functional skills that a child should be able to demonstrate within a specific age-range.These milestones cover gross and fine motor skills, language development, cognitive abilities, and social skills. When a child does not seem to reach several developmental milestones, the child may have special needs. Of course, every child is unique and failing to perform a particular task does not automatically mean the presence of a learning disability. This is why the Battelle Developmental Inventory (BDI) can be used to assess all children, with or without special needs.

Two types of Battelle Developmental Inventory tests are being utilized in the field of special education testing. These are the Screening Test and the Complete Second Edition Test. Both types assess major developmental skills, but the former is shorter while the latter is more intensive.

BDI Screening Test

The BDI Screening Test is usually administered to children who are between the ages of six months and eight years. This assessment for special needs students is composed of 96 structured items that are answered in two ways. First, the test administrator observes how the child responds to manipulatives. And second, the administrator conducts an interview with the parent or primary caregiver. Children who are between three and five years old are observed for about 20 to 30 minutes. Children who are younger than three and older than five will be observed only for about 15 minutes.

To identify special needs children, the Battelle Developmental Inventory Screening Test covers five domains.These are:

  1. Personal-Social Skills – which observes the child’s interaction with adults and peers, the apparent self-concept, self expression, and perception of social roles
  2. Adaptive Behavior – which refers to the child’s life skills such as eating and dressing and the child’s awareness and sense of responsibility
  3. Psychomotor Ability – which includes both gross and fine motor skills
  4. Communication – which covers both the expressive and receptive communication
  5. Cognition -which indicates the child’s ability to remember, distinguish, conceptualize, and rationalize

BDI Second Edition

The Second Edition of the Battelle Developmental Inventory covers the same five domains: personal-social skills, adaptive behavior, psychomotor ability, communication, and cognition. But this assessment for special needs students utilizes 450 items, making it last for about one to two hours. A team of professionals, including the special education teacher, can work together using the BDI-2 to reveal a more complete information about the development of the special needs child. Due to the comprehensiveness of the BDI-2, the results of this special needs testing can be used as basis in creating IEPs (Individual Educational Plans) and IFSPs (Individual family Support Plans).

Of course, the Battelle Developmental Inventory is just one of the assessment instruments that is used to determine the problems and monitor the progress of special needs kids. The other assessment tests that may be useful are listed here.