Investigate Development: Cognitive Development in Infancy

Investigate Development: Cognitive Development in Infancy

Investigate Development: Cognitive Development in Infancy

MAKE A DECISION: Is Russell at risk for developmental delay?

  1. Yes
  2. No


Why? Give reasons for why you chose the way you did. Consider the following factors in your reasons:

  • Cognitive development
  • Language development
  • Environment

Be sure to review the attached rubric for this assignment to ensure you cover all points appropriately.

Please see attachment for instructions

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    Cognitive Development

    Jean Piaget (1952) found that infants between the ages of 4 to 8 months repeat actions to make interesting events last longer, even though the action may not have caused the event to occur.

    According to Piaget (1952), infants learn to apply previously learned “action schemas” to new objects by 8 to 12 months of age. Investigate Development: Cognitive Development in Infancy

    The Denver Developmental Screening Test II is a commonly used screening tool to identify young children who may be at risk for developmental delay. However, the test should only be used to identify children in need of further evaluation, rather than as the sole means of evaluation (Frankenburg, 2002). The test covers four major areas of development: personal-social, fine motor-adaptive, language, and gross motor.


    Language Development

    Early communication in infancy can take the form of both gestures and sounds. Both are important in the development of language, even though gestures are not typically thought of as being part of language. This is because gestures and sounds can both serve as symbols for the infant to communicate, even if they do not have universal meaning or even a meaning to the parents (Newman & Sachs, 2013).

    It takes some time for the parts of the body to develop that enable certain speech sounds to be produced. Infants will often use “protowords,” or speech sounds that hold a particular meaning to the infant but not to anyone else, except for those familiar with the child who understand what the infant means when he uses these protowords (Newman & Sachs, 2013).

    Between 6 and 10 months of age, infants typically begin to start using pointing to direct an adult’s attention to something in the environment. Between 9 and 12 months, infants typically respond to pointing gestures of adults by shifting their attention to the location in which the adult is pointing, indicating that they understand what the pointing gesture means (Masur, 1983).

    The MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory (CDI) is a measure from parental report on the words that an infant can comprehend or say; it also asks other questions about the infant’s communication skills. The infant version includes a checklist on the early vocabulary that a child understands (receptive vocabulary) and can produce (expressive vocabulary), which can be compared to the established norms for other children of that infant’s age in months (Fenson et al., 2007).



    An infant’s environment can play a determining role in how well the infant develops, including his home environment (Bradley, Caldwell, & Corwyn, 2003), daycare environment (NICHD, 2006), as well as health and nutritional factors (Levine & Munsch, 2016).

    The Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment (HOME) is a screening tool for measuring the quality and quantity of stimulation in a child’s home environment, which have been shown to relate to cognitive development. The various components of the measure are strongly related to infant scores on intelligence tests and other cognitive measures later in childhood. The indicators of a stimulating and supportive environment include Parental Responsivity, Acceptance of Child, Organization of the Environment, Learning Materials, Parental Involvement, and Variety in Experience (Bradley, Caldwell, & Corwyn, 2003).

    In a large-scale longitudinal study on the effects of childcare on young children’s development, the NICHD (2006) found that high quality nonmaternal childcare was related to several cognitive and social outcomes later in childhood. Exclusive maternal care, on the other hand, was not related to any of the measured outcomes, except a small effect of exclusive maternal care on one cognitive measure. The conclusion was that nonmaternal care is not necessarily detrimental to children’s outcomes, and can actually have a positive impact compared to sole care by the mother if the quality of care is high.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics (2011) issued a policy statement that television viewing should be discouraged for children under the age of 2. This was due to the documented negative effects that watching television can have on physical health, attention span, language delays, and other aspects of development.

    Early intervention can prevent at-risk infants from developing problems later in life. Kitzman et al. (2010) found that infants who have high-risk parents (parents who are young, unmarried, and have low income) but who were visited by nurses in infancy scored higher on tests of reading and math skills at age 12.


    Denver Developmental Screening Test

    One part of the Denver Developmental Screening Test II involves playing with blocks to screen for issues with the child’s fine motor – adaptive development. According to Frankenburg, Dodds, Archer, Shapiro, and Bresnick (1992), some or most infants are able to do the following at 12 months of age (in order of the age at which most infants can accomplish them, from oldest to youngest):


    Put cube in cup (most difficult)

    Bang 2 cubes held in hands (moderately difficult)

    Take 2 cubes (moderately difficult)

    Pass cube (least difficult)

    Next would be pictures of Russell doing the following with the cubes:


    First Picture—Examiner hands Russell two cubes, but he only takes one at a time.


    Second Picture—Russell bangs both of the cubes together.


    Third Picture—The examiner holds out a cup, and Russell puts the cube in the cup.


    Fourth Picture—Examiner reaches out hands to take a cube, but Russell drops them instead of handing them over.


    As will be apparent from the pictures, Russell can’t (or won’t) do the two easiest tasks but does the hardest two tasks easily. This could spark a discussion about how test behavior is not necessarily the same as actual day-to-day behavior, and how the screening tool is just a screening tool, and that more testing would be required to say that Russell is developmentally delayed or not. It would also lead to a less straight-forward decision about whether or not Russell is developmentally delayed.


    Communicative Development Inventory

    Following are the norms for a 12-month old’s receptive vocabulary size as assessed by the Communicative Development Inventory (CDI) and where Russell is compared to these norms (data taken from The further left the infant is from the peak of the normal curve (the black curved line in the chart), the more problematic his receptive language development is.


    Explanation: This histogram shows the number of words that 12-month infants can understand, and where Russell is compared to these infants. It is clear from Russell’s place on the curve that his receptive language is delayed compared to normal children. Although this is relatively obvious, using this histogram shows students real data collected on language development and could spark a discussion on what is “normal,” how to interpret a histogram and normal distribution, and how we can tell that Russell’s receptive language is not merely below average but is actually quite atypical (Note: This chart was created with IBM SPSS).


    Interview with mother

    Q. How does Russell usually interact with his toys?

    A. Russell doesn’t really like to play with new toys, so he doesn’t really have many. He really only has the same toy blocks that he’s played with since he was about six months old. He doesn’t really understand how the toy blocks work. For example, he’ll knock them over with his arm, so when he builds a tower and he wants the blocks to fall down he’ll just wave his arm randomly. He doesn’t understand that it’s hitting the blocks that knock them down, not just waving his arm in the air. He can build a tower but usually only out of the same few blocks that he uses all the time. He ignores the rest. He doesn’t understand that any of the blocks can build a tower.

    Q. Tell me a little bit of how Russell communicates with you, both with his words and with his body.

    A. This is something that is concerning to me because Russell is constantly making up sounds to describe things and to ask us for things. For example, his toy blocks he calls “booms,” because one time when they fell over his father made a “boom” sound. So we try and get him to call them “blocks,” but he’ll try a few times and then he just goes back to calling them “booms.” As far as how he communicates with his body, if we’re at the dinner table and he’s in his highchair and he sees something that’s out of reach, he’ll just reach for it, he wont look to us to help him. Or if we are trying to show him something and point at something, he will just ignore it.

    Q. What is Russell’s life like at home and anywhere else that he might spend his time?

    A. When Russell was younger and his father and I were both working, he was in daycare for a time. But I heard something on the news that said that children in daycare that young, it could have a negative effect on them. The daycare he attended was really great, but after hearing this I did quit my job, so I could take care of Russell myself. I have gotten a job since, that I can work from home so I have a small office space set up in Russell’s bedroom, so I’m with him all day and I can work from home. He keeps himself busy by just watching the same DVD over and over again he just doesn’t seem to lose interest in it.


    We took a big financial blow when I quit my job, and we are really struggling financially now, but considering how much Russell is struggling compared to the other kids, we just felt it was for the best. Investigate Development: Cognitive Development in Infancy


    MAKE A DECISION: Is Russell at risk for developmental delay?




    Why? Give reasons for why you chose the way you did. Consider the following factors in your reasons:


    Cognitive development

    Language development