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  • Writer's pictureJoanna Caton

Occupational Therapy Assessment and why I DO NOT use the term "informal assessment".

NB: In Australia we use the term "assessment" to describe our information gathering process. I know that in other countries this is known as "evaluation".

I have often wondered WHY many OTs insist on using the term "INFORMAL" to describe a SKILLED ASSESSMENT process which requires:

* a University/Masters degree to learn how to do and;

* involves the observation of complex performance components (e.g. executive functioning, motor skills, psychosocial factors, sensory processing, development, cognition, perception and the list goes on) and;

* the understanding of how these factors relate to participation???

There is NOTHING INFORMAL (aka, un-planned, un-skilled, any-one can do it) about this type of assessment. The fact that this type of assessment does not result in a number or score does not equate to informal! Words impact and the way that our profession describes what we do in verbal and written communication MATTERS. The use of the word "informal" devalues our skills and suggests that our professional observations need additional evidence or back-up in order to be taken seriously.

MY SUGGESTION? Swap "informal assessment" for "Clinical observations" or "occupational therapy observations"

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