This work aims to define contemporary scores for the Developmental Eye Movement Test (DEM) for native Portuguese-speaking children (PT) and to compare these scores with three other published scores: the original norms, published in 1987 for American English-speaking children (U.S.) and two other scores published in 1995 (SP1) and 2003 (SP2) for Spanish-speaking children.
A standard DEM test was administered to 695 young students ranging in age from 6 to 13 years from the region of Braga, Portugal. The mean PT scores for vertical time and adjusted horizontal time as well as the corresponding errors and ratio were calculated according to age and grade, and these results were compared with those from other studies. In addition, the clinical response types (age and grade) were obtained based on mean PT scores.
For several ages/grades, the scores obtained in this study were significantly different from the scores reported in other studies. A global qualitative analysis showed that PT made fewer errors and had similar ratios when compared with U.S. and SP2. However, PT were generally slower in vertical time and adjusted horizontal time in the younger age groups. When comparing PT and SP1, a higher ratio for SP1 was determined in all ages. The clinical response types signified below-normal performance scores for ages 6 to 9 and grades 1 to 5.
The unusually large number of oculomotor and/or automaticity problems found in this normal PT population using a test based on U.S. norms highlights the need for PT-specific guidelines. It appears that DEM scores may be affected by differences in language, educational systems, and/or cultural systems. Therefore, clinicians should be aware of these findings when using the DEM test on children in countries with differing languages and cultures.