Developmental Screening

Developmental Screening

Not every disability is visible to the eye. Developmental delays and disabilities such as autism, mental retardation, emotional disturbances, and speech and language disorders often go undetected until a child enters elementary school.

This is true even though study after study has shown that the earlier a delay is recognized and intervention is begun, the better the child’s chance of substantial improvement.

What is Developmental Screening?

Developmental screening is the practice of systematically looking for and monitoring signs that a young child may be delayed in one or more areas of development.

Screening is not meant to establish a diagnosis for the child but rather to help professionals determine whether more in-depth assessment is called for. In most cases, screening rules out the likelihood that further assessment is needed.

Using a high quality screening tool like the Ages & Stages Questionnaires® (ASQ), professionals can screen children for delays accurately and cost-effectively.

How Do Screening Tools Work?

Screening tools usually take the form of a series of questions or checklists used to track children’s development relative to milestones achieved by a larger group of children of the same age. A home-grown checklist won't do; screening tools must be carefully validated by research.

In the case of ASQ, parents or other caregivers answer a series of simple questions regarding their child’s abilities (Does your child climb on an object such as a chair to reach something he wants? When your child wants something, does she tell you by pointing to it?). Children whose development appears to fall significantly below that of their peers are flagged for further attention.