MDAT IDEC Child Development Monitoring Tool

April 26, 2023





What is MDAT IDEC?


The MDAT IDEC Child Development Monitoring Tool is a simple version of the MDAT which has been created with data from over 8,000 children from a number of African countries. Items which are most valid, and which best identify children as having developmental delays at certain ages have been chosen in order to create a simple tool for workers in the community who may not have much time and experience in using developmental assessment tools. The items in the tool are also the easiest to train on and use the least amount of kit in order to make it easy to source kit and keep the tool as simple as possible.


How is it different from MDAT?


MDAT IDEC has been made as a simpler version of MDAT, for those who do not have much time and resources to perform an assessment to measure developmental delays and disabilities in children. MDAT is a full assessment of child development, however, MDAT IDEC is only used for monitoring purposes. It only consists of 52 items, whereas MDAT has 157 items. Due to this reason, it takes around 3 days to complete and MDAT IDEC training compared to 5 days or a week for MDAT. Moreover, IDEC uses less number of kit items (only 20). The domains for MDAT are categorised into the fine motor, gross motor, language and social. The MDAT IDEC Developmental Monitoring Tool also includes these 4 monitoring domains for child development, but it also includes many cognitive items; the fine motor domain of MDAT IDEC measures fine motor skills but also visuomotor and some cognitive skills.



More about the monitoring tool & Some detail about PART A- PART D



The MDAT IDEC Developmental Monitoring Tool includes 4 monitoring domains for the following areas of child development; Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Social and Language but it also includes many cognitive items.

The gross motor domain measures the different physical skills of a child; such as sitting, standing, walking, running, kicking a ball.


The vision and fine motor development in the MDAT measure fine motor skills but also visuomotor skills. Many of the skills (at least 50% of them in the later years) have also been judged by experts to be a measure of cognition (problem-solving). This domain includes vision skills such as; fixing and following to the midline and to 180 degrees (right across from right to left). It also includes motor skills which are done with hands such as; grasping, passing something from one hand to another, pincer grasp, putting things in and out of containers, screwing and unscrewing a lid on a container and building towers and bridges with bricks. Cognitive items include; working out how to get blocks out of a jar, understanding the terms “more” and “heaviest” and “longest” and counting blocks.


The language domain of the MDAT includes items that look at expressive language (whether the child can say words), receptive language (whether the child understands words), hearing and cognitive skills (50% of the later items in the MDAT in this domain are cognitive).


The social domain of the MDAT includes items that look at adaptive skills (washing hands, feeding self, going to the toilet) as well as some skills which look at play and interaction as well as responsible behaviour within society.





To be trained in MDAT IDEC, training is required from a trainer who will ensure that one is confident with their training. Further, 10 assessments need to be conducted with someone watching either through training or as part of a group. We can then provide certification to be an MDAT IDEC Child Monitoring Tool Assessor. One someone has completed MDAT IDEC raining and feels confident they can then talk to a trainer about getting training as to how to do the full MDAT in case they ever want to become more confident and competent in early child development assessment.


The MDAT IDEC Monitoring tool includes pre-test and post-test quizzes to be completed by the assessors before and after the completion of training. These can be available on training resources section of our website, after the successful signing and return of an MOU.



Use of MDAT IDEC in Uganda:



Use of Malawi Development Assessment Tool (MDAT) in Child Disability Intervention Project in Uganda:


“During a joint disability collaboration forum, UNICEF shared with partners on how it is using MDAT for screening and assessment of children with disability in their early years of life. This triggered a lot of interest from sister UN agencies particularly UNESCO regional office in Nairobi, UNFPA Uganda, Chance for Children-Uganda and Kyaninga Child Development Centre (KCDC) a local- Uganda. UNESCO was motivated to hear that MDAT tool can be used at school level to assess young learners with disability in early stages for corrective interventions.”