You’re sitting on the living room floor ready to start the assessment and the child is no where to be seen. His mother says that he always hides from strangers and is probably behind the couch. One peak back there and yup, there he is. As soon as he sees you he turns away. How are you going to assess his development from behind the couch?? What do you do?
A few ideas:
Take time to warm-up – Try to warm him up before jumping into the assessment. You will probably learn things about his development before you even get out the shape puzzle or the blocks!
Play where he is – Let him stay where he is and try to engage him there. Play peek-a-boo, roll him a ball or car, or play with one of his favorite toys. Be silly and fun to show him that it might be okay to play with you.
Give him space – Give him his space for a while and just talk with his mom. He is probably feeling stress over the situation so take the attention and pressure off of him and maybe he’ll come out from hiding on his own.
Play with his sibling – Play with his brother or sister if he has one and make it fun. He might want to join in!
Only one person at a time – Only have one person try to engage the child if you have several professional team members with you. Other team members can pass you testing items if the time comes when he is ready to engage with you. They may need to move where they can see what he’s doing but they should keep their distance.
Coach his mother in the assessment activities – If he and his mother are willing, have her present the test items to him. Coach her in what to do. With time he still might warm up to the rest of the team, but do what you can to help him feel safe and secure.
Consider alternatives – If he keeps hiding, ask yourself and your team, including the child’s mother: Are there too many people in the room? Is there somewhere else he might be more comfortable like outside or in his bedroom (because you could move the assessment there)? Is there a better time of day for him? Should you reschedule for another day?
What other ideas do you have for this situation? Share your ideas by leaving a comment below!