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With the advent of digital technology: video cameras, camcorders, and even telephones with camera capabilities, creating a digital video of a child in the orphanage is entirely within reach of a visiting parent, who, being very personally involved and interested, can create a larger and more objective video file of a prospective child. Such data may be helpful in the initial screening of this child, but it should be gathered according to certain guidelines (not randomly) to be useful for further professional assessment.

This unit is devoted to the description of what and how to record to make the most of your recorded data.

What is a videotape evaluation?

A pre-adoption videotape can provide useful and at times unique data about a child’s current functioning and possible school-related problems. Videotape analysis can complete, refine, or sometimes rebuff the information contained in written files (e.g., medical records). Two factors are needed to make tape evaluation effective: the quality of the tape and the qualification of the evaluator. The length, quality of recording, and the content of recorded material is crucial. An examiner must be trained and experienced psychologist or speech pathologist who are fluent in the child’s native language. Sometimes a side-talk on the tape may carry out very useful information and only a native speaker could take notice of it A videotape should be considered together with medical and educational (in case of older children) information and may corroborate each other.

At BGCenter, we have developed a certain methodology in evaluation of video files. Our method is based on the Brigance Inventory of Basic Skills for different age groups starting from 12 months to 12 years. Our approach is not only developmentally specific but is also culturally/language sensitive, taking into consideration national and regional social/cultural differences. It includes the following aspects for a comprehensive analysis:

  • General physical appearance.
  • Gross motor coordination.
  • Fine motor functioning.
  • Vision and hearing.
  • Speech (articulation and fluency)
  • Language: signs of any pathology (e.g.: perseveration, echolalia, etc.), expressive and receptive aspects, pragmatics (use of language for social interaction), cognitive/academic language.
  • Behavior and social skills.
  • Cognitive skills and processes (memory, attention, speed of reaction, etc.)
  • Academic skills.

The usefulness and scope of a professional conclusion based on a videotape is limited and solely based on information explicitly presented on the videotape. Of course, there is no substitution for a thorough “hands-on” psychological and developmental evaluation, but videotape could make a valuable contribution in our understanding of the child’s current functioning and to point to possible difficulties in school.

Requirements to videotapes of children of different ages
Sample psychological report based on a videotape analysis


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