Handbook of Infant, Toddler, and Preschool Mental Health Assessment

By Rebecca DelCarmen-Wiggins; Alice Carter | Go to book overview

Preface
This volume is quite possibly the first published handbook on assessment of mental health in infants, toddlers, and young preschool children. As such, it signals that this young field is growing up. Despite rapid growth in recent years, there is not to our knowledge a comprehensive volume reviewing conceptual, methodological, and research advances on early identification, diagnosis, and assessment of disorders in this young age group that could be used for teaching, research, and clinical practice. It is our hope that offering this collection of chapters will facilitate conceptual and methodological integration, and provide an opportunity to disseminate some of the very exciting recent developments within the young child assessment field. Our goal is to promote further advances within the research community and to promote changes in best practice (i.e., adoption of new, empirically based methods of assessment) within the clinical community.
ISSUES AND ADVANCES THAT
INFORM THIS BOOK
The impetus for compiling this handbook is derived from the following concerns or developments within the young child assessment field:
1. Challenges in applying existing diagnostic approaches to young children. There is a consensus that traditional diagnostic approaches, such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) system, have not been shown to be reliable or valid for young children. In addition, they do not incorporate research on infants and young children that highlights the importance of developmental and relational issues in diagnostic formulations. Modifications to criteria for a variety of disorders including depressive, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, and disruptive behavior disorders in young children have been proposed and are currently under investigation.
2. The need for early identification of risk and disorder for available programs and services. Public policy and legislative efforts have led to new opportunities for programs and services that target this young population. In addition, a growing empirical literature on a variety of disorders in very young children, such as autism, suggests that early, appropriate intervention (possibly capitalizing on the neuroplasticity of the young brain) can achieve better outcomes than treatment commencing in the later years. Despite a consensus regarding the value of early intervention and prevention efforts, most psychiatric disorders are not easily diagnosed before 3 years of age and, with the excep

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