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DH launches Hong Kong Comprehensive Assessment Scales for Preschool Children (with photos)

     The Department of Health (DH) today (August 18) launched the Hong Kong Comprehensive Assessment Scales for Preschool Children (HKCAS-P). This is the first-ever locally developed comprehensive diagnostic instrument for Hong Kong preschool children.

     The HKCAS-P enables accurate assessment of a wide range of functions for preschool children suspected to have developmental problems. The assessment results will help professionals to make referrals for treatments, training or educational placements, and to monitor progress and evaluate treatment outcomes.

     Speaking at a press conference, the Director of Health, Dr Constance Chan, remarked that local paediatricians and psychologists have been using developmental assessment tools developed overseas for preschool children during the past 30 years. Owing to the differences in the living environment and cultural context, overseas assessment instruments may not be able to appropriately reflect Hong Kong preschool children's developmental status.

     Dr Chan said, "To better cater for the needs of local Cantonese-speaking preschool children, the multi-disciplinary team of the DH's Child Assessment Service (CAS), together with senior academic scholars including Professor of the Department of Applied Social Sciences of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University Professor Cynthia Leung; the Chair Professor of Social Research of the Hong Kong Institute of Education, Professor Lo Sing-kai; and Associate Professor of the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences at the Faculty of Education of the University of Hong Kong Dr Anita Wong have since 2009 conducted research and development of the HKCAS-P."

     Consultant Paediatrician (Child Assessment Service) of the DH Dr Florence Lee said, "The HKCAS-P will enable accurate assessment of a wide range of preschool children's functions, including their cognitive, language, social cognitive, fine and gross motor and perceptual functions and abilities, as well as their literacy and numeracy skills."

     Dr Lee continued, "The HKCAS-P is the first-ever assessment instrument specifically devised for Cantonese-speaking children. There are a number of novel elements, including testing on preschool children's Cantonese oral language ability, and a social cognition scale referencing the local cultural context which can be used for direct testing.

     "Moreover, the assessment on early literacy skills of the HKCAS-P was developed based on children's cognitive processes related to Chinese reading. The development of its motor perceptual scales has also taken into consideration Hong Kong preschool children's environment as compared to that of their overseas peers, such as having fewer outdoor physical activities and a heavy emphasis on early writing tasks."

     Dr Lee said that the HKCAS-P is intended to be used by medical professionals who work in the field of developmental-behavioural paediatrics, including mainly developmental-behavioural paediatricians and clinical/educational psychologists. The tool is applicable to professionals working in the public sector including in the DH, the Hospital Authority, the Education Bureau and the Social Welfare Department, as well as those from non-governmental organisations and the private sector.

     Professor Leung said, "The HKCAS-P has drawn reference from the literature on local children's developmental characteristics and their disorders. Validation involved correlation with current best standards and comparison between children from different age groups, as well as children with different developmental statuses. For reliability, internal consistency and test-retest reliability were examined."

     Professor Lo added, "When the HKCAS-P was developed, the norms of the domains contained in the instrument for preschool children in Hong Kong were also constructed. Such norms will enable professionals to have a more accurate understanding of the stage of development of an individual child when he or she is compared to peers in the same age group. This will enable professionals to make referrals in a more objective and scientific manner."

     Dr Lee said, "We will organise training workshops for professionals in late 2014 or early 2015."

     Dr Lee added, "The DH's Maternal and Child Health Centres (MCHCs) monitor the health and development of babies and young children from birth to 5 years of age through an integrated child health and development programme. If necessary, MCHC doctors will make referral to the CAS or other specialties for comprehensive developmental assessment."

Ends/Monday, August 18, 2014
Issued at HKT 17:44


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