Parent rating scales prove helpful in diagnosing learning and attention problems, Canadian researchers report. Recent research suggests that if parental concerns are carefully elicited and interpreted, they can accurately describe children’s disabilities. Previous research has shown that parents are an excellent source of information on vocabulary development and general language as well as cognitive and memory skills.
In a recent study of the Parent Ratings of Everyday Cognitive and Academic Abilities scale, parents correctly differentiated reading disabilities from attention problems. This parent-reporting scale asks parents to rate their children’s everyday functioning in typical home and school environments. Including it with diagnostic testing helped to correctly identify children’s academic problems. In fact, parents’ ratings were found to be more sensitive to group differences between children with reading disabilities and children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) than standard psychometric tests. The parent scale was particularly good at correctly identifying children with ADHD, and the inclusion of psychometric tests did not increase the correct classification beyond what was achieved by the parents’ reports alone.
This finding is consistent with previous research suggesting that psychometric assessments are not particularly useful in the differential diagnosis of children with ADHD. The Parent Ratings of Everyday Cognitive and Academic Abilities scale focuses on how children use their abilities in everyday situations and, therefore, is a more realistic evaluation of performance than individual tests that are designed to elicit their best performance. Parents’ ratings provide diagnosticians with an accurate picture of how children’s cognitive difficulties are affecting their daily functioning.
“Clinical Importance of Parent Ratings of Everyday Cognitive Abilities in Children with Learning and Attention Problems,” Journal of Learning Disabilities, Volume 36, Number 1, January/February 2003, pp. 87-95.