Is the PEDS approach effective?
Research suggests that if parents are asked the right questions in the right way, they are very accurate observers of their child's strengths and weaknesses. One of the criticisms of developmental screening tools is that they tend to be performed in isolation without taking into account the socio-cultural context in which a child grows up, and without systematic input from parents. Apart from the time, costs and special training needed to administer developmental screening tests, there have been concerns that not involving parents actively in the process diminishes the tools’ accuracy and makes it less likely that recommendations will be followed. It is more than just what we do, but how we do it?
How reliable and valid is PEDS?
Using PEDS as a screening tool has been validated against standard psychometric tests in a series of studies in the USA. Information published by Glascoe et al (2013) highlighted the sensitivity (91–97 per cent) and specificity (73–86 per cent) of the PEDS screening tool. It also has the advantage of involving parents in the process. The sensitivity of PEDS in relation to the identification of disabilities i.e. learning, intellectual, language, mental health, autism spectrum and motor disorders was noted to be between 71 and 87 per cent.
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In order to test the suitability of PEDS for use in the Australian context a trial was conducted in selected Victorian preschools. Findings indicated that PEDS was acceptable to parents of Australian preschool children and indicated that parents reported a prevalence of significant concerns (i.e. children at high and medium risk of developmental problems) that was similar to those in the USA.
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PEDS was re-standardised in 2012.
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Recent studies have found no differences in the accuracy of parental concerns on the basis of socio-economic status, number of children in the family, birth order, participation in day care, or parenting experience.
Where PEDS is used as a formal screening tool, we urge the usual cautions:
- A screening tool is not diagnostic, and clinical diagnoses should not be made on the basis of responses on the PEDS.
- If the use of the PEDS raises major concerns about the child, then full developmental assessment needs to take place before any firm clinical conclusions can be made.
- A secondary screening tool may also be used as part of the assessment.
What other secondary screening tools are available?
PEDS: Developmental Milestones (PEDS:DM) Find out more
The PEDS:DM is a measure that can be used with PEDS or by itself and is designed to replace informal milestones checklists with highly accurate items known to predict developmental status.
The BRIGANCE® Early Childhood Screen is a tool that assists in identifying developmental needs quickly and accurately, allowing professionals to easily identify potential learning delays and giftedness in children.
About Ages and Stages Parent Report Questionnaire (ASQ)
The ASQ is a developmental and social-emotional screening tool that is highly reliable and valid. The ASQ looks at strengths and trouble spots, educates parents about developmental milestones, and incorporates parents’ expert knowledge about their children.
Screening tools such as PEDS:DM, BRIGANCE and the Ages and Stages Questionnaire can be used as a secondary or screen to increase specificity following the application of PEDS. These tools can also be used as a primary screen when PEDS is not appropriate, as indicated on the PEDS Interpretation form if there are:
- parental difficulties communicating/language barrier
- practitioner concerns but parents have no concerns
How is PEDS used with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities?
The PEDS tools available for use with specific language groups are complete cultural translations. These translations have been developed to provide as much consistency in validity, sensitivity and specificity as possible for the use of PEDS as a screening tool.
PEDS Response Forms are available at no cost in the following languages: Albanian, Dzongkha (Bhutan, north of Bangladesh), Amharic, Arabic, Armenian,
Bengali, Burmese, Cambodian, Cape Verdean/Portuguese, Chinese– simplified, Chinese
– traditional, Congolese, Danish, Dutch, Farsi, Filipino/Tagalog, French, Galician,
German, Greek, Gujarati (Indian State of Gujarat), Haitian, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong,
Icelandic, Indonesian, Korean, Northern Sotho (Sth Africa), Karen
(Myanmar/Thailand), Laotian, Malay, Nepali, Polish, Portuguese (& Cape
Verdean), Punjabi, Quechua (Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia), Russian, Samoan, Serbian
(Cyrillic & Latin), Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Taiwanese, Tamil, Thai,
Urdu (Pakistan), Vietnamese, Visayan Cebuano, Yoruba (Niger-Congo), Zulu (South
contact us if you require copies of PEDS Response Forms in a language other than English.
PEDS is used in many different ways with families from CALD backgrounds. Practitioners, in partnership with the parent, will decide if an interpreter is required to support the PEDS conversation. This decision will be influenced by the parent’s level of literacy in their spoken language, as well as their understanding of spoken and written English. When an interpreter is used to administer PEDS without an official translation, practitioners must be extremely cautious about interpreting results, as the validity as a screening tool is reduced. There should be a very low threshold for the use of a secondary tool administered by the clinician (e.g. Brigance) for the purposes of screening children’s development. However, in these circumstances PEDS continues to have great effect as a tool for engaging parents in discussion about their child’s development.
What training is required to use PEDS?
As the current PEDS Licence holder for Australia and New Zealand the Centre for Community Child Health is required to ensure quality implementation of the PEDS screening tool. Training programs are regularly updated based on the latest early childhood research. Each workshop is evaluated and practitioner feedback used to inform the ongoing development of the program. Training programs aim to provide practitioners with the knowledge, skills and confidence to implement PEDS well. As part of the training participants have an opportunity to practice using, scoring and interpreting PEDS, through exploration and reflection on a variety of case studies.
Training is also provided for those experienced practitioners wishing to become PEDS trainers. Read more about PEDS training.
How is PEDS used in research?
PEDS has been used in a wide variety of research studies to screen children’s development, either as a means of determining eligibility for a particular study or as an outcome measure.
For PEDS to provide useful data, the parent comments must be used in scoring PEDS (ie they cannot be left off a questionnaire or ignored when scoring). Clarification of concerns is also important, and PEDS is best scored and interpreted by a trained administrator at the time of administration when items can be discussed with the parent(s). Read more about
PEDS in research.