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February 1982

Validity of Parental Assessments of Development and Behavior

Author Affiliations

319 W Front St Media, PA 19063

Am J Dis Child. 1982;136(2):97-99. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1982.03970380009001

Clinicians traditionally rely on information from several sources in the process of diagnosis and management. Both with physical ailments and with developmental and behavioral problems in children we count not only on physical findings and various test results but to a large extent on the reports of parents (and sometimes the child) as to what has been happening. Recently, some critics, especially behavioral scientists,1 have been maintaining that parents are quite unreliable in their descriptions of their children's development and behavior and that they are more likely to report their fantasies or distortions than reality. However, there is growing evidence that when parents are asked the right questions in an appropriate way, they give us data of moderate or high validity.2 The article by Coplan elsewhere in this issue of the Journal (see p 101) is an example of such evidence. This commentary enlarges on this issue by