The Intelligence and Development Scales – 2nd Edition (IDS-2): tackling the complexities of post-pandemic assessment

By Priska Hagmann-von Arx, psychologist and IDS-2 author

The spread of the novel Covid-19 virus has shaped our lives for the past year and a half; in our educational and professional lives, we were suddenly affected by distance learning, remote working, flexible working arrangements and more. And in our personal lives, social distancing and contact restrictions led to families living unusually close together and people not seeing each other for months at a time. And of course, the professional routines of educational psychologists changed vastly as a consequence of the pandemic.

The pandemic also presented additional obstacles in child and adolescent development. The changed learning and performance conditions sometimes led to gaps in learning, and the psychological effects of the pandemic continue to be reflected on a global scale in the significant increase in referrals for psychology and psychiatry services.

For children and young adults needing support, it can be important for professionals to consider administering a complete developmental assessment in the context of the complex events of the pandemic, to provide clarity for recommendations and serve as a guide to intervention.

The Intelligence and Development Scales – 2nd Edition (IDS-2) is an assessment that provides all of this and more. The IDS-2 is a reliable and valid assessment of six developmentally relevant domains for 5- to 20-year-old[1] children and young adults: Intelligence, Executive Functions, Psychomotor skills, Social-emotional skills, Scholastic skills, and Motivation and Attitude.

The IDS-2 is a practical toolkit that takes a solution-oriented diagnostic approach. It allows the professional to relate the different domains to each other, and to examine strengths and weaknesses of children and young adults both from an inter- and intra-individual perspective. Interpreting the results of the IDS-2, together with information from the case history, and other sources such as behavioural observations and observations from teachers and caregivers, interventions can be developed and support or therapy measures can be initiated – bringing a measure of normalcy back to children, young adults, and their families.

The overall aim is to provide support for children and young adults, as well as for their immediate familial and educational environments, building on a comprehensive assessment underpinned by the IDS-2. In this way, the IDS-2 contributes to the recovery of the child or young adult’s developmental potential.

Case study

Lisa was in Year 4 during the spring 2020 lockdown. Together with her parents, she lives in a three-room flat. Her father does shift work in Operations; the pandemic forced him to cut back his hours. Her mother works as a nurse, and her workload increased in the early days of lockdown. Lisa’s grandparents, who help with childcare, belonged to the high-risk ‘vulnerable’ group, so their only contact was via video call. During the lockdown, Lisa participated in distance learning with her school, and she found the technical requirements challenging. She became increasingly immersed in video games instead and skipped her schoolwork. Knowledge gaps soon became apparent as she started Year 5. In addition, Lisa appeared unfocused and unmotivated. On the advice of her teacher, Lisa was referred to an educational psychologist.

The IDS-2 was used to assess Lisa’s developmental and intelligence levels. Lisa showed an intelligence level in the upper-average range, but her concentration appeared to fluctuate. She showed a noticeably strong heterogeneous (i.e. different) performance in memory tasks. In looking at Executive Functions, she showed a slow naming speed in the inhibition task (Subtest 17: Animal colours) but had an impulsive, fast way of working, which led to numerous errors in the domain’s planning task (Subtest 18: Drawing routes). Lisa's academic competencies in Spelling and Reading were below average. In the Social-emotional skills domain, Lisa demonstrated that she knew socially competent ways of behaving. In Motivation and Attitude, she described her Achievement Motivation and Conscientiousness as below-average.

It was recommended that Lisa and her family were given assistance in putting together an academic support plan, including additional support from the school to help her fill in the apparent academic gaps, and work on her decreased performance motivation and conscientiousness; it was clear she had the cognitive potential to benefit from such support, and her energy for her schoolwork was soon much improved. In addition, her parents were supported and empowered in their parenting efforts and the family agreed on limiting the time Lisa spent playing video games and spending more time together as a family, for example going outside and engaging in sports activities together. These measures visibly improved Lisa's concentration. And while her social-emotional skills had already been perceived as strong, her newfound confidence helped her make a new friend in her neighborhood – an added result of her effort to overcome the challenges of this pandemic.

For more on the IDS-2

The IDS-2 is available from September 2021. Find out more and pre-order your kit here


[1] The IDS-2 is for ages 5;0–20;11.