What is a Multidisciplinary Evaluation and Assessment?

Provided by: The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that children with developmental delay and/or disabilities receive a timely, comprehensive, multidisciplinary evaluation and assessment. The purposes of the evaluation and assessment are to find out:

  • the nature of your child’s strengths, delays, or difficulties, and
  • whether or not your child is eligible for early intervention services.

Multidisciplinary means that the evaluation group is made up of qualified people who have different areas of training and experience. Together, they know about children’s speech and language skills, physical abilities, hearing and vision, and other important areas of development. They know how to work with children, even very young ones, to discover if a child has a problem or is developing within normal ranges. Group members may evaluate your child together or individually.

Evaluation refers to the procedures used by these professionals to find out if the child is eligible for early intervention services. As part of the evaluation, the team will observe the child, ask the child to do things, talk to the parents and the child, and use other methods to gather information. These procedures will help the team find out how the child functions in five areas of development: cognitive development, physical development, communication, social-emotional development, and adaptive development.

Following the child’s evaluation, the parent(s) and a team of professionals will meet and review all of the data, results, and reports. The people on the team will talk with the parent(s) about whether their child meets the criteria under IDEA and State policy for having a developmental delay, a diagnosed physical or mental condition, or being at risk for having a substantial delay. If so, the child is generally found to be eligible for services.
If found eligible, he or she will then be assessed. Assessment refers to the procedures used throughout the time the child is in early intervention. The purposes of these ongoing procedures are to identify the child’s unique strengths and needs, and determine what services are necessary to meet those needs.

With the parent’s consent, the family’s needs will also be identified. This process, which is family-directed, is intended to identify the resources, priorities, and concerns of the family. It also identifies the supports and services you may need to enhance the family’s capacity to meet the child’s developmental needs. The family assessment is usually conducted through an interview with you, the parents.

When conducting the evaluation and assessment, team members may get information from some or all of the following:

  • Doctor’s reports;
  • Results from developmental tests and performance assessments given to your child;
  • Your child’s medical and developmental history;
  • Direct observations and feedback from all members of the multidisciplinary team, including you, the parents;
  • Interviews with you and other family members or caretakers; and
  • Any other important observations, records, and/or reports about your child.


Who pays for the evaluation and Assessment?

It depends on the state’s policies or rules. Ask your local contact person or service coordinator about this. However, evaluations and assessments must be done by qualified personnel. As was said above, a multidisciplinary group of professionals will evaluate your child. The group may include a psychologist or social worker, an early interventionist or special educator, and an occupational or physical therapist. All assessments must be performed in your child’s native language.

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