Individual Growth and Development Indicators (IGDIs) for Infants and Toddlers are tools that provide helpful information about children’s growth toward socially valued outcomes that can guide intervention decisions.
IGDIs are performance measures especially designed for use by childcare practitioners to reflect individual children’s progress toward general outcomes:
Communication: The child uses gestures, sounds, words, or sentences to convey wants and needs or to express meaning to others.
Movement/Motor: The child moves in a fluent and coordinated manner to play and participate in home, school, and community settings.
Social: Child interacts with peers and adults, maintaining social interactions and participating socially in home, school, and community.
Problem Solving: Child solves problems that require reasoning about objects, concepts, situations, and people.
IGDIs, like pediatricians’ height and weight charts, display an individual growth trend over time compared to normative growth. What is shown is the trend in an indicator that is measured frequently over time (e.g., monthly, quarterly). It is well known that growth in height and weight are sensitive indicators of the general health status of an infant/toddler. The lack of expected growth rate evokes the concern of the pediatrician and sets the occasion for reflection on the problem, its causes, and possible solutions.
Lack of progress on an IGDI often indicates the need for a more in-depth assessment to identify what the child can and cannot do and to plan for an intervention or a change in an existing intervention. Similar to height and weight charts used to monitor an infant’s general health status, IGDIs are used to measure progress (growth and development) within early communication, movement, social skills, and problem solving.
Some common characteristics of IGDIs are that they:
- Identify “authentic” child behaviors in natural settings.
- Are standardized and replicable so that the data from separate administrations are comparable.
- Meet the requirement of criterion validity in that they measure the general outcome that they are intended to measure.
- Meet the requirements of reliability, including inter-observer agreement, internal consistency, and reliability of alternate forms, so as to provide accurate information for use in intervention decision making.
- Are sensitive to growth over a short period of time so they can be used to evaluate intervention effectiveness.
- Are sensitive to intervention effects.
- Are efficient and economical, allowing practitioners to gather data that are usable for decision-making without unduly adding to their workload.
- Are tools that improve the communication and collaboration between parents and professionals serving their children.
Some key differences between IGDIs and other traditional forms of measurement are the following:
- They may be repeated as often as weekly compared to most standardized measures requiring 6-months or more before they may be repeated.
- They take less time to administer, for example 6 to 10 minutes, versus 20 to 60 minutes.
- They are designed for use by practitioners in home and childcare settings compared to assessments designed for specialists (OT or PT) and requiring clinical or specialized settings for administration.
- They are directly relevant to decision making about interventions whereas others are not.
- They directly reflect growth over time, concepts that are important to practitioners, parents, and others working with young children.
- They are comparatively less costly to learn and to use than many traditional forms of measurement.