Trying to Understand Development

  • Ronald S. Illingworth
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 161)


I suggest that instead of merely carrying out developmental tests, we try to understand development, the reasons for variations found and the significance of our findings for the future. Psychological studies of the newborn are fascinating, but we should try to understand why there are differences in different babies, their significance for the future, the possible early signs of mental superiority. If abnormalities are found, we should not just note them, but try to understand the relevant prenatal, perinatal or postnatal causes. We need to try to understand the reasons for the poor correlation between developmental tests in infancy and later I.Q. tests. All children are different; they differ in their rate of development. Some aspects of development are far more important than others. We test totally different skills at different ages. Abnormal signs may disappear — or only appear later. Norms of development are partly fallacious, because they are based on highly selected children. Developmental assessment is a clinical diagnosis and all clinical diagnoses should be based on the history, the examination, special investigations where relevant, and their interpretation.


Black Child Developmental Test Major Congenital Anomaly Developmental Assessment Perinatal Hypoxia 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald S. Illingworth
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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