Background The early identification of developmental delay, through surveillance, is vital in addressing the neurological and psychosocial deficits in childhood. Presently, Sri Lanka does not have such a surveillance programme. Within the UK, Schedule of Growing Skills II (SOGS2) is a standardised screening tool which is used extensively. However the cross-cultural adaptability of SOGS2 and ethnic variations in the acquisition of milestones has not been investigated.
Aim 1) Determine whether SOGS2 milestones are appropriate to children in Sri Lanka.
Identify differences in milestone acquisition in Sri Lankan children, compared to UK standards.
Methods Primary school children in Sri Lanka were assessed, as part of their school health programme, by health professionals appropriately trained in SOGS2. Additionally, parents and teachers completed a developmental questionnaire for each child. The acquisition of milestones was compared to UK standards. The adaptability of SOGS2 was evaluated through discussions with local professionals in child health.
Results 88 children (M:F; 1.2, median age 51 months, range 44–56) were assessed. 91% and 55% of children demonstrated advanced developmental scores in self-care (e.g. ‘copes with entire meal’ and ‘un/dressing unaided’) and locomotor (e.g. ‘walks alone up/downstairs in adult fashion’) domains respectively. Post hoc analyses indicated that self-care and locomotor milestones were achieved on average 15.83 and 6.07 months earlier than the UK standards. In contrast, 60% of participants expressed immature interactive social skills (e.g. ‘takes turns in play’ and ‘sharing toys’) with an average delay of 7.76 months, compared to the UK. The other domains did not show marked differences. SOGS2 was well received and demonstrated practicality as a screening tool. Moreover, local professionals agreed that SOGS2 was appropriate to Sri Lanka.
Conclusions SOGS2 demonstrates substantial adaptability to Sri Lankan children. However age-standardisation of milestones is necessary before use as a screening tool. Furthermore, differences in ‘self-care’, ‘interactive’ and ‘locomotor’ domains between Sri Lankan and UK children have been highlighted. Whether these differences should be taken into account for migrants to the UK requires further study.