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Introducing the DPS - DISC Preschool Screen
and the D I S C - Diagnostic Inventory for Screening Children

DISC Preschool Screen

Diagnostic Inventory for Screening Children


for infants, toddlers and preschoolers


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THE MODEL, designed for the early identification of children with developmental problems, is based on fifteen years of research funded largely by Health and Welfare Canada and the Hospital for Sick Children Foundation in Toronto, Canada. The model is enjoying widespread use throughout Canada and the United States. DPS and DISC were developed for use by front-fine workers such as Public Health Nurses, Family & Children's Services Workers, Day Care Resource Teachers, Junior Kindergarten Teachers, etc. The DPS can also be a valuable screening tool for General Physicians and Paediatricians. The Two-Stage Screen Model


DISC is referred to as a "Diagnostic Screen" since it bridges the gap between a first-stage developmental screen and a thorough diagnostic assessment. DISC assesses developmental skills in eight areas: Fine Motor, Gross Motor, Receptive Language, Expressive Language, Auditory Attention & Memory, Visual Attention & Memory, Self Help and Social Skills. DISC requires approximately 45 minutes to administer and will identify specific skills areas in which the child is showing deficits. On the basis of DISC results, a referral for further diagnostic follow-up can be made or interim programming can be established using the child's identified strengths and weaknesses.


DISC Preschool Screen (DPS) is the first stage of the model and is to be administered on a one-to-one basis. DPS requires approximately 15 minutes to ad-minister and every child is given 12 age-appropriate items. The items on DPS represent a carefully chosen sample of the most discriminating items from DISC. Age appropriate cut-off scores on DPS suggest whether follow-up testing with DISC is required.


A multilevel training program is available for agencies purchasing DPS and DISC. Level I Introductory workshops can be scheduled with the authors of DPS/DISC. Levels II and III DISC Certification Certificates can be earned through submission of work samples and video tapes. This process ensures that administrators are adequately skilled in the administration, scoring and interpretation of DPS and DISC.

Level II and III Certification workshops are offered twice a year in Ontario, Canada. A DISC conference is also hosted every two years to provide information on new research related to the DPS/DISC and to allow DPS/DISC users to present research based on their use of DPS/DISC. The conference facilitates networking among representatives from agencies who are interested in the process of early identification and intervention.

For further details regarding certification, or any other information about training, contact Marian Mainland at (519) 644-5429, fax (519) 699-4890, email

 DISC Preschool Screen (DPS)

Each DPS kit contains:

DPS Administration and Scoring Manual, DPS Picture Book, 40 DPS Record Forms, Manipulative Materials

Sample DPS Forms


  • administrators require limited training
  • quick and easy to administer
  • interesting for the children
  • provides accurate, precise results
  • items selected from DISC
  • requires 10-15 minutes to administer
  • each child is given 12 age appropriate items
  • a score less than 7 indicates the need for follow-up with DISC and is used as the criterion cut-off score for all ages
  • results show high sensitivity and specificity
  • interpretation based on objective, categorical judgment


Diagnostic Inventory for Screening Children (DISC)

Each DISC Kit contains:

DISC Administration and Scoring Manual, DISC Picture Book, 40 DISC Record Forms, package of 40 of each Summary Sheet, Manipulative Materials


DISC Test in progress


  • fills the gap between tests for first-stage screening (such as DPS) and tests such as Bayley Scales of Infant Development for complete diagnostic assessments by a psychometrist or psychologist.
  • a second-stage screening instrument to be used to make decisions regarding the need for more detailed assessment of a child
  • identifies children in need of diagnostic follow-up and identifies domain in which the follow-up should be directed
  • valuable for agencies who review significant numbers of preschool referrals but who do not have the resources to do complete psychological assessments on each child that is referred
  • for use by front line workers (paraprofessionals) who can combine day-to day observations with results from formal developmental screening
  • provides a profile of the child's development in skill areas matching Canadian and UES. requirements to identify "special needs" children
  • screens eight skill areas to identify children "at risk" of developmental delay according to guidelines provided by identification criteria such as US. PL94-142: communications, cognitive, motor or social emotional deficits.
  • items cover the entire spectrum of preschool years: one month to 60 months
  • includes an equal number of items on each of eight developmental scales
  • represents a current, standardized, reliable and valid screening tool
  • provides results in the form of raw scores, percentile values and age equivalents that can be used to generate a profile of developmental levels across eight domains.



DPS requires 10-15 minutes and DISC requires between 15 and 45 minutes depending on the child's age and developmental level.

Sample Test form


DPS/DISC can be administered by para-professionals with expertise in the area of child development.



The materials in DISC kits are colourful and interesting for children which eases the task of eliciting appropriate responses. Equipment is durable and familiar to children. A training videotape reviewing the administration, scoring and interpretation of both the DPS and DISC is available for rental or purchase. A shorter tape reviewing only the DPS is also available. Both tapes include a sample set of record forms and summary sheets.


Items on DISC were chosen from an original item pool of over 500 items. Items were standardized on a sample of over 2,000 children to determine proper item age placement and to provide the basis for a comprehensive tool to screen for developmental delays. Reliability and validity were established through independent samples. The francophone version of DISC was translated from English, then revised and standardized in French on an age stratified random sample. DPS was validated against DISC on an independent sample of 1200 children.


DPS identifies children who require follow-up with DISC. DISC identifies children requiring diagnostic follow-up and determines the direction in which this follow-up should be focused. DISC results, in the form of raw scores, percentile values and age equivalents, facilitate referral to diagnostic specialists and provide data to satisfy the criteria for accessing services for children with special needs. DISC identifies moderate as well as severe developmental delays. If skills do not improve based on programming or if the detected delay is profound, a referral for more complete assessment in the area of weakness can be facilitated using DISC.


Here are the three summary sheets are used to review DISC results:

Sample DISC forms

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